MIDDLETOWN, CT — Saying he didn’t want what happened in Las Vegas to happen in Connecticut, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he will propose legislation to ban the purchase and sale of “rate of fire enhancements,” including bump stocks, binary trigger systems, and trigger cranks.
The legislation, Malloy’s first announced initiative for the upcoming General Assembly session, was unveiled at a press conference Tuesday at the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection building in Middletown.
In the 2017 Las Vegas massacre, the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history, Stephen Paddock had outfitted at least 12 of his rifles with bump stocks, which, attached to semi-automatic weapons, give them rapid-fire, continuous shooting capabilities. Killed were 58 and another 546 were injured.
After the deadly Las Vegas shooting, lawmakers looked to the federal government to ban bump stocks, arguing that they had no appropriate purpose for sport or civilian defense, only destruction.
At first, support for a ban was sweeping, bipartisan, and bolstered by the National Rifle Association — but soon the NRA turned against it.
Both of Connecticut’s U.S. Senators, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, came out in favor of banning bump stocks immediately after the Las Vegas shooting.
In November, the state of Massachusetts — where the state legislature meets throughout the year — decided to act, passing its own state-level bump stock ban.
Now Malloy wants Connecticut to do the same.
“Legislation would be better if passed nationally,” Malloy said. “But the NRA has too many senators in its pocket.”
So, the governor said, he wants Connecticut to be one of the states to take the lead, adding, that “we don’t want to live in a war zone in America.”
The governor also cited the low cost of the equipment.
“Bump stocks are cheap, they are deadly, and they have no place in our society,” Malloy said. “In Connecticut, we refuse to allow federal inaction to endanger the lives of our residents, despite the best efforts of powerful lobbyists from the NRA.”
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said she doesn’t want to wait for more tragedy.
“As state leaders, we should have the courage to pass common sense, anti-violence legislation to help avoid the types of tragedies that we experienced here in Connecticut and that we see continuing throughout the nation,” Wyman said.
Under the proposal, possession, and sale of rate-of-fire enhancements, including bump stocks, binary trigger systems and trigger cranks will result in a Class D felony. Permit holders who possess rate-of-fire enhancements prior to July 1, 2020, will receive an infraction and be fined $90 for their first offense, and shall be charged with a Class D felony for any subsequent offense.
The proposed legislation defines a “rate of fire enhancement” as any device, component, part, combination of parts, attachment, or accessory that uses energy from the recoil of the firearm to generate a reciprocating action that facilitates repeated operation of the trigger, including but not limited to bump stocks.
Malloy said he didn’t think the legislation would completely rid Connecticut of bump stocks “because the industry is innovative,” but he reiterated that he wanted “his state” to be one that acts on the issue.
Connecticut Citizens Defense League Scott Wilson panned Malloy’s initiative.
“Lame duck Governor Malloy is not surprisingly going back to the well of gun control yet again, perhaps to distract from his poor approval ratings,” Wilson said.
“It is key that the public be aware the legislation proposed today is simply feel good in nature. The devices in question that Malloy seeks to ban are not needed to replicate the rapid rate of fire. This effect can be easily accomplished by the use of a belt loop, a rubber band, or even just by holding a firearm a certain way. Moreover, the devices themselves can be easily made in a typical basement shop using everyday materials,” Wilson added.
He said Connecticut has already banned certain firearms and limits magazine capacity, which already renders such devices ineffective.
Wilson said he would wait to see the language of the legislation, but these types of devices are not commonly owned by legal gun owners.
At the Middletown press conference, Malloy had backers for the initiative, though.
“The Las Vegas gunman fired more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition in only 11 minutes, using semi-automatic rifles modified with bump fire stocks designed to dramatically accelerate the rate of gunfire and cause maximum damage,” Po Murray, chairman the Newtown Action Alliance, said.
She said that Connecticut passed “the second strongest gun laws in the nation” after Sandy Hook. But it’s time for the legislature to act again.
The 2013 changes to Connecticut gun laws, which banned assault weapons and large capacity magazines, were controversial. But they were supported on a bipartisan basis.