Democratic AND Republican lawmakers agree: Ban bump stocks in NJ!
The device that authorities say the Las Vegas shooter used to carry out his massacre Sunday night should be banned in New Jersey, according to both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
Democratic state Sens. Ray Lesniak and Richard Codey and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg on Thursday introduced legislation to ban the sale and possession of “bump stocks," which allow someone to operate a semi-automatic rifle with an increased rate of fire, almost like a fully automatic weapon.
In the Assembly, Republican Holly Schepisi introduced similar legislation on Thursday. Her bill would require gun owners to turn over their bump stocks to police.
“No civilian should ever have access to an automatic weapon," the Bergen County lawmaker said. "I had never heard of a bump stock before this week, but I strongly believe we should ban them so weapons cannot be converted to automatic."
While bump stocks are legal in New Jersey, modifying a weapon with one is not, attorney and gun-rights advocate Evan F. Nappen told New Jersey 101.5 on Tuesday.
Joe Hawk, the owner of Guns and Roses gun shop in Toms River, says he already refuses to sell bump stocks even though they're legal.
“The only reason you would use something like an increased rate of fire would be in a war zone," he told New Jersey 101.5 this week.
While Gov. Chris Christie has resisted efforts at strengthening the state's already tough gun laws, his spokesman on Thursday told NJ.com that the governor "looks forward to working with the Legislature on this issue when they return to work after the election" in November.
The statement comes days after Christie was asked on New Jersey 101.5's "Ask The Governor" about bump stocks. During Monday's show, Christie suggested that more gun regulations were not the answer to the problem of mass shootings.
“Sometimes bad things happen and sometimes there’s nothing we can do to stop it," he said.
Lawmakers on the national level also are eyeing bans on bump stocks following the Las Vegas rampage by Stephen Paddock, who authorities said killed 59 people and injured more than 500 as he blasted rapid-fire rounds from a hotel window into a crowd of defenseless concertgoers below.
While Republicans, backed by the influential National Rifle Association, usually oppose more restrictive gun regulations, some GOP members of Congress — including the U.S. Senate's second-ranking Republican, John Cornyn of Texas — have said they are open to banning the devices.
“I own a lot of guns, and as a hunter and sportsman, I think that’s our right as Americans, but I don’t understand the use of this bump stock,” Cornyn was quoted as saying by the New York Times this week. “It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on.”
Schepisi said bump stocks were "approved by the Obama administration in 2010 as a way to help people with disabilities fire a semi-automatic rifle."
“Even though New Jersey has some of the most strict gun laws in the nation my concern does not go away," she said.
The Democratic state senators noted that the bump stock allowed Paddock to fire 400 to 800 rounds a minute.
“This was an open-air massacre that turned a music concert into a killing ground,” Lesniak said. “His firepower was dramatically increased by using these bump stocks to effectively convert his weapons into fully-automatic rifles. The sale and possession of these devices need to be outlawed.”
“There is no legitimate use for these devices other than to increase the killing power of the weapons they are designed for,” Weinberg said. “No single law can prevent all the gun violence but we need to use the tragic lessons of these cases to make our communities safer. Keeping these bump stocks out of circulation is an obvious lesson from the Las Vegas tragedy.”
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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