Bump-Fire Stock Ban On Track For Feb. 1 Enactment, But Don’t Expect To Be Reimbursed For Complying

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/01/17/bump-fire-stock-ban-on-track-for-feb-1-enactment-but-dont-expect-to-be-reimbursed-for-complying/


BOSTON — With the state’s ban on bump-fire stocks and trigger cranks set to begin at the start of next month, the Gun Owners’ Action League is questioning the “forced surrender” policy as interpreted by the state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, criticizing the guideline for having “only one legal path to follow — turning the device(s) over to police” without reimbursement.

The pro-Second Amendment organization recently uploaded a copy of a letter penned by EOPSS Secretary Daniel Bennett, slated to be mailed out to licensed Massachusetts gun owners, to its website.

“Because the law does not allow for transfer or sale of these prohibited items, if you currently possess a bump stock or trigger crank within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts you should contact your local police department or the Massachusetts State Police to get details about how to transfer custody of the prohibited item to the police for destruction,” Bennett wrote. “Retention of such a prohibited item beyond the 90 day grace period will expose the owner to criminal prosecution.”

Felix Browne, a spokesman for Bennett, confirmed the authenticity of the letter and told New Boston Post that the letter is necessary as the “new law calls for notifying individuals holding firearms licenses of the change in state law.”

Browne also addressed the question of reimbursement, noting that “it does not appear the Legislature address the issue of compensation in the bill that became law.”

The ban, the first of its kind in the nation, was enacted in response to authorities who reported that a Las Vegas gunman used bump-fire stocks to maximize the number of casualties in an October 1 massacre, during which he sprayed more than 1,100 rounds of bullets from his Mandalay Bay hotel room into a crowd of 22,000 attending an outdoor concert, killing 57 and injuring more than 540.

An earlier New Boston Post report documented how rapid-fire gun enthusiasts have posted videos to YouTube demonstrating simple physics that seems to defeat the purpose of the new law, such as how the natural recoil action of a firearm can be manipulated to produce the same effect as the add-on equipment being banned in Massachusetts.

GOAL, which does not oppose the ban, said in a recent press release that it opposes the manner in which the Massachusetts directive is being carried out. The organization labeled Bennett’s interpretation “egregious” and said the measure constitutes an “illegal and unconstitutional taking of property without compensation by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

“There is no mention as to how an individual who chooses to comply with this law will be able to show proof that they did,” the release notes. “There is no mention about what the police will do with these devices upon receiving them.”

Slide Fire, a company that advertises itself as “freedom unleashed” and claims to be the “official bump stock”holds various patents for the devices and sells models ranging from $159.95 to $329.95, according to the company’s web page. 

Owners of the devices in Massachusetts are also barred from selling them to individuals living in states like New Hampshire where the equipment is still legal to own.

Chris Pinto, director of Massachusetts Gun Rights Inc. — which bills itself as the “only non-compromise gun rights group in the commonwealth” — told New Boston Post on Wednesday that he’s equally concerned with how the measure was passed by the state Legislature in the first place, pointing out that the order was finalized in early November during an informal House vote.

He pointed to Article IX of the state Constitution, which stipulates that “not less than sixty members of the House of Representatives, shall constitute a quorum for doing business.”

The ban was included in a supplemental 2017 close-out budget package, passed without a roll call vote, and sent along to the Senate, which proceeded to meet in a formal session where it passed the package, likewise without a roll call vote.

The House action involved only a handful of lawmakers, according to the House Journal for November 2. Senate records do not include a tally of votes, and the Senate Journal for November 2 only states that the bill — “having been certified by the Senate Clerk to be rightly and truly prepared for final passage and containing an emergency preamble — was laid before the Senate; and, a separate vote being taken in accordance with the requirements of Article LXVII of the Amendments to the Constitution, the preamble was adopted, in concurrence, by a vote of 2 to 0.”

Article IX of the state Constitution stipulates that “not less than 16 members of the Senate shall constitute a quorum for doing business.”

Yet the state Legislature’s quorum end-around was not illegal, per the loophole outlined in Article XXII, which states that “a less number may organize temporarily, adjourn from day to day, and compel the attendance of absent members.”

The informal procedure could have been halted had a single lawmaker present voiced any doubts about whether a quorum had been reached.

Meanwhile, Pinto stressed that he’s not a fan of the equipment and described the add-on items as “junk toys.”

“But the problem here is the way in which the state is doing this,” Pinto said.  “The whole thing was done in such a bad way — when you pass laws in an informal session with no roll call you’re passing laws under the cover of darkness.

“Nobody knows who voted.”

The ban is set to go into effect on February 1. Penalties for possession of trigger cranks and bump-fire stocks includes a minimum prison sentence of at least 18 months and also the potential for a lifetime sentence.