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Senate wants more study on proposed bump stock ban

State House Bureau

February 01. 2018 8:50PM
A bump-fire stock that attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firing rate is seen at Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem, Utah. (REUTERS/George Frey/File)

CONCORD — Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate agreed that a bill to ban bump stocks needs further study, but they couldn’t agree on how.

In a 14-9 roll call along party lines, with all Democrats opposed, the Senate on Thursday voted to refer SB 492 to interim study by the Judiciary Committee. That puts the bill out of consideration for this legislative session, but it could come back next year.

Democrats wanted a legislatively appointed commission with representatives from stakeholders groups to consider a New Hampshire ban on the firearms accessory.

Bump stocks use a rifle’s recoil to bounce off the shooter’s shoulder and “bump” the trigger back into place, allowing the marksman to fire multiple rounds in rapid succession.

A bump stock was found in the hotel room of the Las Vegas shooter who killed 58 concert-goers and wounded 489 others last October in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

A Massachusetts ban on the device, technically known as a multi-burst trigger activator, took effect on Thursday. New York and California had bump stock bans in place before the Las Vegas shootings, and at least 15 other states are considering similar measures.

Lawmakers in Congress have introduced a bill to outlaw the device, but gun rights groups and GOP leaders want the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to study the issue first.

That point of view prevailed in the state Senate. “ATF has opened a federal rule-making procedure regarding regulating bump stocks, which includes a public comment period that closed earlier this week,” said Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry. “It’s important to hear what the federal government proposes before moving forward on this issue.”

Sen. Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, agreed that last week’s public hearing on the bill revealed legitimate concerns about how it is written and the impact it could have on law-abiding gun owners.

“After the hearing it did become evident that there is much work needed on this proposed bill, but the minority does not feel interim study will accomplish that work,” she said. Laske proposed an amendment to create a bipartisan commission “with differing groups of people to work on a meaningful study of bump stock devices.”

The fact that the bill wasn’t killed outright was a victory of sorts, according to Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn, D-Whitefield, who favored a bipartisan commission, but said he could accept interim study while awaiting the results of the ATF review expected later this year.

“This is a great day for those of us who favor common-sense gun regulation,” he said. “I’m pleased which ever direction we take. It’s a great day for New Hampshire.”

SB 492, if signed into law, would establish a misdemeanor offense for the manufacture, sale, possession or use of a bump stock in New Hampshire.

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