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Malloy, Blumenthal, Murphy Call For Bans On 'Bump Stock' Gun Devices

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called Wednesday for a Connecticut ban on the type of “bump stock’’ devices used in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history in Las Vegas.

The “bump stock’’ is attached to a semi-automatic weapon in order to make it fire more like a machine gun.

“I would expect that legislators and perhaps my own administration will move to eliminate the sale of those in our state,’’ Malloy told reporters at the Capitol. “I think we should speak to it more clearly.’’

Malloy said the devices should be outlawed when the legislature convenes in the next regular session in February. The General Assembly is still currently meeting in special session to pass a two-year $40.7 billion budget that is still unresolved.

“Realistically, they turn it into a machine gun,’’ Malloy said. “Knowing that, it probably would be appropriate to eliminate the sale of those in the state of Connecticut.’’

Nationally, Connecticut’s two U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, are also calling for a federal ban on the devices.

Stephen Paddock, a retired accountant and high-stakes Las Vegas gambler, used the devices on some rifles to kill at least 59 people and injure more than 500 others in Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, according to law enforcement authorities.

The devices can be sold legally in Connecticut, and they do not need to be registered under the current law — unlike assault weapons.

“We know everyone who has assault weapons legally in the state because they were sold prior to our legislation,’’ Malloy said, referring to the “grandfather’’ registration rules under the law.

Malloy said he was not aware of how many gun shops might be selling the bump stock devices currently in Connecticut.

A major difference in the legislature since the passage of Connecticut’s gun laws in 2013 is that the Republicans have gained far more seats. The state Senate is tied at 18-18 for the first time in more than 100 years, making it difficult so far to reach a budget compromise.

But Malloy noted that the 2013 gun control legislation, after the Sandy Hook school shootings in 2012, was passed on a bipartisan basis. He said that the bump stock legislation also could be passed in a bipartisan manner.

Malloy also said he does not expect any federal legislation to pass in Congress in the near future because of the widespread influence of the National Rifle Association.

“The NRA owns one political party and part of another,’’ Malloy said.

Among the guns authorities say Paddock brought with him to the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel were 12 rifles modified with such a device. The "bump stock" attaches to a semi-automatic rifle and uses the recoil to fire off multiple shots in rapid succession, according to Slide Fire, one of the largest manufacturers of the devices.

"The patented Slide Fire rifle stock allows shooters to safely and accurately bump fire their rifles without compromising safety and accuracy,'' the company states on its website.

Such devices are fairly new, and they have only been widely available for about a decade. In 2010, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ruled they did not violate the federal ban against automatic weapons. Since the device does not actually convert a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one, the government has determined that they are legal under current law.

Jonathan Hardy, a firearms training instructor from New Britain and an executive member of the pro-gun Connecticut Citizens Defense League, described bump stock as “a novelty-type thing.” They reduce accuracy and quickly chew through ammunition, so they aren’t widely used by most shooters, he said.

“It doesn’t have any real practical applications,” Hardy said.

At the Waterbury gun store where he works a few days a week, Hardy said customers have come in recently asking about bump stocks. But a lot of national distributors are out of stock, in part due to an uptick in purchases by buyers anticipating a ban, he said.

Hardy disagreed with efforts to ban the devices. “We’re focusing again on the method, which does not change the mind,” he said.

Blumenthal and Murphy signed on to legislation introduced by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to ban bump stocks nationally. A key Republican, Senate Homeland Security chairman Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, also said that he would support a ban, according to The Hill.

“This device has no purpose but to convert an already deadly weapon into a completely lethal carnage force multiplier,” Blumenthal said.

Feinstein included a similar ban on bump stocks in 2013 as part of a broader bill to ban assault weapons that was introduced after the Sandy Hook shooting. The Senate ultimately voted down multiple gun control measures that spring.

Since the Las Vegas shootings, top Republicans in Congress said it is too early to talk about stricter gun control laws at a time when the families are still mourning.

Courant staff writer Daniela Altimari contributed to this report.


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