BOSTON — Massachusetts could be moving quickly to outlaw devices used by the Las Vegas shooter that allow semi-automatic weapons to mimic fully automatic guns.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers have both filed bills to ban the devices, called bump stocks. Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said he supports a ban.
The devices fit over the stock and grip of a semi-automatic rifle and allow the weapon to fire continuously. The Las Vegas shooter had 12 weapons fitted with such a device, which is why witnesses heard what sounded like automatic-weapons fire as the shooter rained bullets from a hotel high-rise, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds more at a concert below.
State Rep. David Linsky, a Natick Democrat, has filed legislation that would outlaw any devices that increase the rate of discharge of a weapon and ban the sale of large capacity feeding devices.
“These devices were created by gun manufacturers as a work-around of the federal law banning the sale and possession of automatic weapons, and there is absolutely no reason for any citizen to possess a bump stock device or a high-capacity magazine,” Linsky said.
Linksy’s bill would also eliminate a state law that allows magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, if they were manufactured prior to 1994. The Natick Democrat said there’s no way to distinguish between old and new magazines, making the current law impossible to enforce.
Republican Senate Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester has sponsored another bill that would also prohibit devices like “trigger cranks and bump stocks” that effectively turn rifles and shotguns into weapons with firing capabilities similar to fully automatic weapons.
Tarr said the bill would make using a device to cause the rapid fire of a weapon illegal and would subject an offender to a potential penalty of life in prison. House Republican Leader Bradley Jones of North Reading also supports the bill.
The push for the ban has surged in the days since the Las Vegas shooting.
Asked by reporters on Thursday about a possible ban, Baker said he would quickly sign a bill if it reaches his desk.
“If that were to pass tomorrow, we would sign it,” Baker said, noting that Massachusetts has passed some of the country’s toughest gun laws with bipartisan support.
“I think it would be terrific if folks at the federal level took a look at some of the standards and the practices and policy and laws that we have here in Massachusetts,” he added.
House Speaker Robert DeLeo also supports the ban. A spokesman for the Winthrop Democrat said DeLeo “believes bump stocks should be illegal, and the House will move quickly on the issue.”
An aide to Senate President Stan Rosenberg said the Amherst Democrat also supports banning bump stocks and similar devices, saying they serve no legitimate purpose.
The state’s main gun rights lobbying group did not immediately return a request for comment on the bills.