BOSTON – Massachusetts on Friday became the first state to impose a ban on bump stocks since the deadly shooting at a Las Vegas music festival.
An appropriations bill that included a prohibition on the devices, which are designed to make semi-automatic rifles mimic the firing action of fully automatic weapons, was signed into law Friday by Republican Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. The Democratic-controlled Legislature gave final approval to the measure on Thursday.
Polito is Massachusetts’ acting chief executive with Republican Gov. Charlie Baker on vacation outside of the state. Baker had previously expressed support for banning the devices.
Baker and Polito “support the Second Amendment to the Constitution and Massachusetts’ strict gun laws,” said Brendan Moss, a spokesman for the administration.
Authorities investigating the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history said the gunman, Stephen Paddock, used a bump stock when he opened fire Oct. 1 from his Las Vegas hotel room on concert-goers below. Fifty-eight people were killed and hundreds more wounded.
The Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts, an affiliate of the National Rifle Association, had sent an alert to its members earlier Friday urging them to contact Baker’s office and demand that he use his line-item veto power to separate out the bump stock ban from the rest of the $85 million budget bill, which was needed so the state’s comptroller can close out the books on the previous fiscal year.
“The provision passed by the legislature … allows for excessive punishment including life imprisonment, with a minimum sentence of 18 months, for the mere possession of these accessories,” said the group.
The legislation, which would also ban most trigger cranks, provides no “pathway to legal ownership,” for the devices and no ability for current owners to sell them, said the gun owners group. The group previously criticized lawmakers for taking a vote before even holding a public hearing.
Democratic state Rep. David Linsky, one of the first in Massachusetts to call for outlawing the devices, said it would make the state safer while respecting the rights of gun owners.
“I am proud of my colleagues in the Legislature for continuing Massachusetts’ reputation as having among the safest and most effective gun laws in the nation,” Linsky said in a statement.
An organization founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was grievously wounded in a 2011 shooting in Arizona, praised Massachusetts lawmakers for banning bump stocks and urged other states to follow suit.
California law already prohibited the sale of bump stocks.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.