Sen. Sheehan, Rep. Craven introduce legislation to ban bump stocks, binary triggers and trigger cranks
STATE HOUSE —Sen. James C. Sheehan (D-Dist. 36, Narragansett, North Kingstown) and Rep. Robert E. Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown) have introduced legislation that would outlaw the modification of semi-automatic firearms that effectively convert the weapon into a machine gun.
The bill (2018-S 2271, 2018-H 7075) would make possession or use of semi-automatic weapon rapid fire devices including bump stocks, binary triggers or trigger cranks punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine.
“The only purpose that these devices serve is to turn a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic, military style weapon,” said Senator Sheehan. “There is no legitimate reason to own these devices either for hunting or defense. Their existence has brought untold sorrow to many and this law would effectively ban them in Rhode Island.”
A bump stock is an attachment that allows the shooter to fire a semi-automatic weapon with great rapidity. It replaces a rifle’s standard stock, freeing the weapon to slide back and forth rapidly, harnessing the energy from the kickback shooters feel when the weapon fires.
“With the tragic and horrific events in Las Vegas demonstrating the powerful lethality that bump stocks can facilitate, we must make the law clear that Rhode Island will not tolerate these dangerous tools of death,” said Representative Craven. “Currently there is some ambiguity to whether or not applying a bump stock to one’s weapon is legal in Rhode Island, but it is still legal to purchase one. This bill will end that practice, making the sale and possession of bump stocks, even if they are not affixed to a weapon, illegal and punishable by the full extent of the law.”
In last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, 12 of the rifles in the gunman’s possession were modified with a bump stock, allowing the weapon to fire about 90 shots in 10 seconds — a much faster rate than the AR-15 style assault rifle used by the Orlando Nightclub shooter, which fired about 24 shots in nine seconds.
The legislation would also ban binary triggers, which is a device designed to fire one round on the pull of the trigger and another round upon release of the trigger, effectively doubling the weapon’s shooting capabilities. A trigger crank is another actuator that attaches to the trigger of a semi-automatic weapon and causes the weapon to fire by turning the crank handle.
“Since I introduced this legislation, we have experienced yet another mass tragedy involving firearms,” said Senator Sheehan. “And while the shooting at the high school in Parkland, Fla., did not involve any of these firing modifications, it does serve as an example of how much worse the tragedy could’ve been if any of these devices had been utilized.”
The Senate legislation, which is cosponsored by Senators Marc A. Cote (D-Dist. 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield), Jeanine C. Calkin (D-Dist. 30, Warwick), Harold M. Metts (D-Dist. 6, Providence) and Ana B. Quezada (D-Dist. 2, Providence), has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The House legislation, which is cosponsored by Representatives Carol Hagan McEntee (D-Dist. 33, Narragansett, South Kingstown), Jason Knight (D-Dist. 67, Barrington, Warren), Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport) and House Majority Leader K. Joseph Shekarchi (D-Dist. 23, Warwick), has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
For more information, contact:
Daniel Trafford, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903