Beacon Hill Lawmakers Finally Reach Agreement on Supplemental Budget, Bump-Fire Stock Ban

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BOSTON — State legislators at long last have reached agreement on a supplemental budget to close out spending for fiscal year 2017, and according to a statement by a prominent Boston Democrat, a key compromise included an outright ban on bump-fire stocks, the add-on equipment a gunman apparently used to maximize casualties during last month’s shooting spree in Las Vegas.

According to the final conference committee report, lawmakers opted to include the Senate’s more specific proposal as part of the $129.3 million budget. The Senate amendment specifically bans bump-fire stocks and trigger cranks. The proposal out of the Senate was tweaked, however, to stipulate that owners of such equipment would have 90 days to get rid of them, with even sales to out-of-state buyers where ownership of the gear is legal being barred, meaning the only option for those who own them is to dump them in the trash.

Per the 90-day language:

Gov. Charlie Baker is currently vacationing in California and is not due to return to the State House until Monday, although Lt. Gov. Karen Polito is authorized to sign the measure into law. Technically, out-of-state sales are legal up until either Baker or Polito sign the bill. 

A more wide-ranging version offered by State Representative David Linsky (D-Natick) had drawn concerns from the Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts, a pro-Second Amendment organization, but ultimately was not adopted.

The final conference committee language stipulates that state laws regulating firearms “shall include bump stocks and trigger cranks,” a specific ban:

House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez (D-Boston), in a prepared statement released just after 4 p.m., did not immediately state, however, if the conference committee established to iron out differences between House and Senate versions of the supplemental budget adopted Linsky’s more far-reaching ban, one which would make it unlawful to purchase any add-on equipment aimed at increasing the rate of fire.

“Massachusetts will once again be a leader in gun violence prevention by banning bump stocks,” Sanchez stated. “We also ensured that SSYI [Safe and Successful Youth Initiative] programs across the Commonwealth will continue to help our most at-risk youth.

“This bill also includes language to ensure job opportunities at casinos for people with CORIs and gives the administration the tools they need to collect budget balancing revenue. Today’s action will allow us to close the FY17 budget in balance and continue working on the challenges before us.”

Safe and Successful Youth Initiative, a youth violence prevention program,  landed $3 million in funding, short of the $4.7 million Sanchez had originally lobbied for, according to the State House News Service’s Matt Murphy, who also reported that both the House and Senate accepted the final conference committee report Thursday evening without holding a roll call vote.

GOAL organizers had spent the week urging members and gun owners to bombard lawmakers with calls in an effort to quash Linsky’s amendment, which would bar any attempts to increase the rate of a firearm’s discharge, even — they feared — action by an owner to lubricate parts in order to improve the ease of pulling a trigger. On Thursday, the group continued its push.

Sanchez, whose signature stood atop the adopted conference report, signifying his prominent role in its crafting, had previously signaled his strong support for Linsky’s amendment as recently as Tuesday.

Governor Charlie Baker has previously indicated his support for measures that would ban equipment like bump-fire stocks.

On Thursday night GOAL expressed in a statement concern that the adopted Senate amendment “did not include a pathway to legal ownership” of bump-fire stocks but called the successful efforts to kill Linsky’s amendment “a tremendous achievement.”

“We are very disappointed with this entire process and will have more info out tomorrow,” the group stated in a Facebook post.