Longhurst Bill Would Ban ‘Bump Stocks’

DOVER – In the wake of the worst mass shooting in modern American history, lawmakers unveiled legislation Thursday that would prohibit the type of device the gunman used to modify his firearms to fire like fully automatic weapons.

Sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and Sen. Harris B. McDowell III, 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.”

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.

“It seems like every few months, we have a new national tragedy and a new ‘worst mass shooting’ in our country, but nothing changes at the federal level,” said Rep. Longhurst, D-Bear. “We all would prefer to see our national leaders take action, but if they won’t, then Delaware should continue to lead on common-sense issues like these.

“Fully automatic firearms are still illegal, and devices like bump stocks that basically convert semiautomatic weapons into automatic ones should be outlawed. Residents and families have every right to protect their lives and property, but the only reason to own a device like this is to fire hundreds of rounds per minute. I hope my colleagues will join in taking a step forward with this common-sense legislation.”

Several other states have introduced similar legislation to ban the use of bump stocks, including California, Ohio, Massachusetts, Missouri and New Jersey. Massachusetts was the first state to institute the ban in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre.

Under HB 300, possession of a bump stock device would be a class E felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.

“Some issues are complicated; this one is not,” said Sen. McDowell, D-Wilmington. “More than 30,000 people – roughly the population of Newark – die at the end of a gun each year. We can’t afford inaction on common sense gun safety reforms, and more than that we owe it to victims and their families to try and prevent tragedies like the massacre in Las Vegas.”

“Bump stocks serve only one purpose: making it fast and easy to kill a lot of people in a short amount of time. Companies that sell them are intentionally undermining the ban on assault weapons, something that enjoys more support than almost any other gun safety policy. Outlawing these devices closes a loophole that has killed many people and could kill many more. I am proud to support HB 300 and look forward to working with all parties in Dover to find common ground on keeping our communities safe.”

HB 300, which has 14 co-sponsors, has been assigned to the House Administration Committee.