A state legislator said Thursday he will introduce a bill next year to ban “bump stocks” in South Carolina.
State Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, said he believes the device — which investigators say were in the hotel room of a shooter who killed nearly 60 people and injured hundreds more in Las Vegas Sunday night — is a loophole which gets around a federal ban on automatic weapons.
“My hope would be that Congress would deal with this and cover it for the entire country,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “But I think we’ve all learned that’s unlikely… I didn’t feel like South Carolina should just sit around and wait.”
“Bump-fire” stocks (also known by the brand name “Slide Fire”) can mimic machine guns or automatic weapons, whose sales to private citizens are banned in most circumstances. Legal semi-automatic guns require a shooter physically pull the trigger for each shot fired. But when a bump stock is attached, it allows the gun’s recoil to push the trigger back into position after a shot, effectively allowing a shooter to hold the trigger down and continue firing. It was approved by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms in 2010 as a way to help those with disabilities more easily fire a semiautomatic weapon.
Members of Congress, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, say they will look into restricting the devices. Even the National Rifle Association, which is often hostile to efforts to restrict weapons, released a statement Thursday saying it believes the devices need further regulation,. However it did not endorse an outright ban.
Stavrinakis said he would like a complete ban, rather than simply blocking future sales. He said he would be willing to ease that position if supporters offer a legitimate reason. “I don’t know how many of these are out there in our state,” he said. “But if we were to ban them, I would support a grace period to let folks turn them in. We’re not looking to turn law-abiding citizens into criminals.”
However, some gun rights organizations say the devices have been available for seven years, so it may be difficult to keep them off the black market.