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Blumenthal & Murphy Introduce Bill To Close Automatic Weapon Loophole

A protester at a candlelight vigil in Newtown calls for a ban on bump stocks, which make a semiautomatic weapon capable of automatic weapon fire. The vigil was held at the headquarters of the National Shooting Sports Foundation on Wednesday evening. Photo Credit: Karen Tensa
U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal are calling for a ban on bump stocks. Photo Credit: File

In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy have introduced a bill to ban "bump stock devices," which convert guns into automatic weapons.

They joined U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Wednesday in introducing the Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act, a bill to close a loophole that allows semi-automatic weapons to be easily modified to fire at the rate of automatic weapons, which have been illegal for more than 30 years.

“Bump stock devices are carnage force-multipliers. The searing noise of that staccato firing in Las Vegas that we have all now heard countless times should be a wakeup call to this Congress. We should come together to stop the sale of a device that is patently designed just to kill people. The bump stock device essentially circumvents the law – widely accepted – and enables law-breaking. What excuse can there be for the continued sale of bump stocks? None,” said Blumenthal.

Murphy said, “Bump fire stocks skirt the law to effectively make a semi-automatic weapon mimic an illegal fully automatic weapon – that’s literally the only reason it exists. People in Connecticut know this shouldn’t even be a debate. Automatic weapons are outlawed for a reason, and the horror in Las Vegas made clear why. Congress needs to pass this bill ASAP or we will see them seized by even more mass murderers and terrorists.”

Related story: Newtown Group Stands With Las Vegas But Calls For Tougher Gun Laws At Vigil

The shooter in the Las Vegas massacre used semiautomatic weapons that had been modified with such devices. He killed 59 people and wounded more than 500 on Sunday night when he opened fire on spectators at a country music festival.

The sale, manufacture and transfer of new fully automatic weapons have been illegal since 1986. However, bump stocks, slide fire devices and other similar accessories can be attached to semi-automatic weapons, allowing them to reach fully-automatic rates of fire.

Semi-automatic rifles typically have a rate of fire of 45 to 60 rounds per minute. A bump stock or other similar device increases the semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire to 400 to 800 rounds per minute.

The Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act would ban the sale, transfer, importation, manufacture or possession of bump stocks, trigger cranks and similar accessories that accelerate a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire.

The bill also makes clear that its intent is to target only those accessories that increase a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire. Legitimate accessories used by hunters would be exempt. The bill also contains exceptions for lawful possession of these devices by law enforcement and the government.

The bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

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