Bump Stock Bill, Amendment, Added to House Agenda

DOVER – Legislation that would ban bump stocks is scheduled for a floor vote in the House of Representatives Tuesday, along with an amendment modifying the bill.

Sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, House Bill 300 would make it a crime to buy, sell, transfer or possess a “trigger crank, bump-fire device, or any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun.”

In recognition that someone could possess a bump stock and not realize it is illegal, the Senate amended the bill to lessen the penalty for a first offense to a misdemeanor. However, the Senate amendment also lessened the penalty for those who buy, sell or transfer the devices.

Rep. Longhurst’s amendment, which was filed Monday, would strike a balance by reducing the penalty for the first offense of possessing a bump stock or trigger crank to a Class A misdemeanor, but maintain the original felony charge for the sale, transfer purchase or receipt of the device and for second or subsequent offenses of possession.

“During the debates on this bill, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been clear that these devices have no practical purpose for hunting, protection or home defense. They only serve to fire hundreds of bullets as quickly and as easily as possible,” said Rep. Longhurst, D-Bear. “But we also heard concerns about situations where someone could not realize these devices were illegal.

“This amendment strikes a balance between a person who happens to possess a bump stock after the enactment date and a person who willfully violates the law and buys, sells or transfers a bump stock. I believe this is a fair compromise that achieves everyone’s goals and allows us to pass another important piece of gun safety legislation.”

Often referred to as a bump stock, these devices can be legally purchased and installed onto semiautomatic firearms, replacing the rifles’ standard stocks. The devices use the recoil of a shot being fired from a semiautomatic rifle to “bump” the firearm back and forth between the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger, causing the weapon to fire at a much higher rate.

In October, a gunman murdered 58 people and injured hundreds of others at music festival in Las Vegas. Investigators learned afterward that the gunman had outfitted several of his two dozen firearms with bump stocks, and he had fired more than 1,100 rounds into a crowd attending the outdoor concert.

HB 300 carries a delayed effective date of 120 days for possession and would establish a disposal process with law enforcement agencies.