Mass. House bans ‘bump stock’ gun devices

  • Rep. David Linsky sponsored a supplemental budget amendment Wednesday banning bump stocks. SHNS photo

State House News Service
Wednesday, October 11, 2017

House lawmakers on Wednesday moved rapidly, and some critics said rashly, to ban any device that could be used to increase the rate of discharge of a firearm.

The bill’s passage came 10 days after a shooter in Las Vegas is believed to have used a “bump stock” device to rain bullets on a concert crowd and maximize casualties.

The ban on bump stocks and any other device that could be used to turn a legal gun into one capable of firing like an automatic weapon was attached to budget bill moving through the Legislature this week and needed to close out spending on the fiscal year that ended July 1.

“The only reason you own a bump stock is to increase the rate of fire of your otherwise legal semiautomatic weapon into the same rate of fire as an automatic weapon to kill people quickly and more effectively. That is the reason. That is not a legitimate reason,” said Rep. David Linsky, a Natick Democrat who filed the amendment.

The House voted 151-3 in favor of the Linsky amendment, with three Republicans — Reps. Peter Durant and Donald Berthiaume of Spencer and Nick Boldyga of Southwick — dissenting. The Senate plans to take up the full budget bill on Thursday, according to a spokesman for the Senate president.

The vote came one week after Linsky filed similar legislation in response to the Las Vegas shooting that would have also banned high-capacity magazines that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

“The magazine issue is a more difficult issue and while I’m still very much committed to closing the magazine loophole we’re going to leave that debate for another day. We have an opportunity to do the bump stock legislation today. We’re going to take it,” Linsky said.

Multiple bump stocks — spring-loaded rifle modifiers used to increase the rate of fire of a weapon — were found in the Mandalay Bay hotel room of Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock. Law enforcement believes Paddock was able to use the bump stocks to fire thousands of rounds of ammunition into the crowd of a country music festival in the span of about 10 minutes.

One woman from Massachusetts — Tewksbury’s Rhonda LeRocque — was killed in the shooting. Her husband Jason LeRocque plans to make the family’s first public statement on the tragedy Thursday morning at the Tewksbury Police Department ahead of a funeral and memorial service on Friday and Saturday.

The Linsky bill filed last week has not emerged for a public hearing. House Speaker Robert DeLeo indicated last week he hoped to move quickly on the issue, and House leaders decided the spending bill was a proper vehicle to attach the measure.

Asked about acting without the benefit of a public hearing, DeLeo said Wednesday that he believes he would have heard from gun owners if they had concerns after House leaders signaled their interest in moving quickly to take up the bill.

“I think it was oversight on our behalf, and because of that I think it was most important that we take it up and and that we take it up immediately and, again, show that Massachusetts is the number one state in the country in battling gun violence,” DeLeo said after a caucus with his Democratic members.

Boldyga, however, knocked Democrats on Twitter after they muscled the ban through. “After Dems ram through Gun Control they didn’t read, they refuse to stand for a vote to fund substance abuse programs. GOP reps stand,” he Tweeted.