Lots Of Uncertainty As Mass. Bump Stock Ban Takes Effect Feb. 1

Jan 29, 2018

Under a new law, Massachusetts gun owners have until Wednesday, Jan. 31 to relinquish bump stocks, which allow rifles to be fired more rapidly.

In November, Massachusetts became the first state to make the possession of bump stocks illegal, about a month after a gunman in Las Vegas used one to kill almost 60 people.  

The law also prohibits possession of trigger cranks, another accessory that allows someone to shoot faster.

When the bill passed, Karen Spilka, chair of the state Senate Ways and Means Committee, spoke about its importance.

"We are going after those devices -- those two devices that can make guns an almost automatic," Spilka said. 

Jim Wallace, executive director of the Gun Owners' Action League of Massachusetts, said he doesn't think it's "for the good of the public."

"This is something that, you know, the legislature wanted to do as a knee-jerk reaction," he said.

Wallace said his members are angry.

"Basically, what they're being told is that something that is an accessory -- and that they spent hundreds of dollars on -- is now contraband, and is outlawed within the state," he said. "It's one thing to ban something and then offer to pay for it. It's another to ban something and then demand that they turn it in without compensation."

The law also prohibits the sale or transfer of the banned items. 

Earlier this month, Massachusetts sent letters to the state's 400,000 firearms permit holders, telling them they could contact the state or local police to turn the equipment in.

The Boston police said no one had turned in the banned accessories as of Friday, Jan. 26.

But in Chicopee, Officer Michael Wilk said they've received one bump stock and that the intake process is straightforward.

"A property tag will be filled out by our officers and a copy given to the person who turns it in," he said. "From there, they go to our evidence officers, and then we'll be in touch with the state to find out how they want them disposed of -- if they want it turned in there. That part we're not entirely sure of yet, but they will be stored in our department until the state gives us further instructions."

The Springfield Police Department said it's also waiting to hear from the state on what to do with any bump stocks that are turned in.

Adding to the uncertainty is the fact that Massachusetts officials don't know how many bump stocks may be out there. But as of Feb. 1, people caught with them could face a sentence of at least three years.