South Carolina capital becomes first US city to ban bump stock sales in tightening of gun controls

Columbia City Council follows state of Massachusetts in approving measure prohibiting firearms modifiers in wake of Las Vegas mass shooting

Harriet McLeod
Wednesday 20 December 2017 14:23 GMT
A bump stock is installed on a AK-47 semi-automatic rifle to increase its firing speed
A bump stock is installed on a AK-47 semi-automatic rifle to increase its firing speed (George Frey/Getty)

South Carolina's capital has passed the first US city-specific measure banning bump stocks, joining a movement to halt the use of the gun accessory that drew national scrutiny after it was found to part of a Las Vegas shooting rampage in October.

The Columbia City Council voted to approve a measure that bans the attachment of the devices to weapons in city limits. The measure does not ban possession of bump stocks, which can make semiautomatic rifles fire hundreds of rounds a minute like fully automatic machine guns.

Last month, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a law that explicitly bans bump stocks.

Steve Benjamin, the mayor of Columbia, said at the council meeting he hoped the measure would provide a framework for other cities looking to enact similar legislation.

“One of the common refrains that you hear, whether it was in Texas or Vegas or Sandy Hook, is that a good guy with a gun could have stopped the carnage,” Benjamin, a Democrat, said in a phone interview on Monday. “It's time for the good guys with guns to begin to pass some really good policy.”

Authorities said Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock had 12 rifles outfitted with bump stocks in the hotel room where he launched his attack on an outdoor concert, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.

Since then several states and cities have proposed measures outlawing or restricting the attachments, and the US Justice Department said earlier this month it was considering a ban on certain bump stocks.

California and New York do not prohibit bump stocks outright, but the devices fall under the definition of an automatic weapon, which are illegal in those states, according to Anne Teigen, who covers firearm legislation for the National Conference of State Legislatures. Some other states and the District of Columbia have assault weapons bans that could include bump stocks.

“We are not aware of any cities that have passed ordinances banning bump stocks,” said Tom Martin, a spokesman for the National League of Cities.

The Columbia measure also would ban the use of other gun attachments that allow rifles to fire faster. Using such devices would be a misdemeanour, and owners would be required to keep them stored separately from any weapon.

Trigger-enhancing devices are not gun parts, gun components, weapons or ammunition, which state law prohibits cities from regulating, Benjamin said.


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