BOSTON – Expressing extreme concern about the role “bump stocks” played in the recent Las Vegas tragedy, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey today, October 30, sent a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders urging them to close a loophole in current federal gun laws.
The bipartisan letter, co-sponsored by Healey and Nevada Attorney General Adam P. Laxalt, includes support from a broad group of attorneys general from U.S. states and territories. The letter notes that bump stock devices – a plastic or metal piece attached to a firearm’s stock designed to increase the ability to fire like a fully automatic weapon – may be used to evade the machinegun laws that are currently in place.
It has been widely reported that the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, modified otherwise lawful semi-automatic rifles with “bump stocks” to kill 58 innocent people and injure hundreds more. The attorneys general urge Congress to evaluate whether bump stocks should be regulated like machine guns in order to protect residents from the dangers posed by unrestricted fully automatic weapons.
“Every option must be on the table to end more horrific tragedies like Las Vegas, but unless we respond with meaningful action, it will happen again,” said Healey. “It is critical that Congress take action to close this dangerous loophole.”
“Today’s letter asks Congress to undergo a careful deliberative process to evaluate whether bump stocks should be regulated in the same fashion as fully automatic weapons,” said Nevada Attorney General Adam P. Laxalt, in a media release.
Since 1986, when Congress enacted the Firearm Owners Protection Act to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968, fully automatic weapons and “machineguns” have been restricted, making it unlawful for civilians to possess a machinegun unless the firearm was acquired prior to the Act’s effective date.
According to the letter, bump stocks can “mimic fully automatic machinegun fire and therefore lead to disastrous consequences in the wrong hands.” The attorneys general also state that Congress “should carefully consider whether bump stocks have created a loophole in the machine gun laws” when considering any news laws.
Joining AG Healey and AG Laxalt in today’s letter are the attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Today’s letter is one more step in AG Healey’s efforts to enhance gun safety in Massachusetts on a local and national level.
Last week, she joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general in strongly opposing the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, arguing that the legislation would override local public safety decisions and endanger communities and local law enforcement.
Last July, AG Healey issued a notice to gun manufacturers and licensed dealers in Massachusetts, warning that her office is stepping up enforcement of the state’s assault weapons ban, including a crackdown on new sales of copycat weapons. Since then, illegal sales of assault weapons have stopped in the state.
Last year, she led a multi-state effort urging Congress to lift the ban on gun-violence research by the Centers for Disease Control and is working with medical professionalsto help develop resources for physicians to aid conversations with their patients about guns in the home.