Several weeks after 58 people were killed and hundreds more injured during a Las Vegas mass shooting, Delaware lawmakers are taking action in an attempt to prevent another tragedy.
The legislation, sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, D-Bear, and state Sen. Harris McDowell, D-Wilmington, would prohibit the device the Las Vegas gunman used to transform his firearms into automatic weapons.
“It seems like every few months, we have a new national tragedy and a new ‘worst mass shooting’ in our country, but nothing changes at the federal level,” Longhurst said in a statement.
“We all would prefer to see our national leaders take action, but if they won’t, then Delaware should continue to lead on common-sense issues like these … Residents and families have every right to protect their lives and property, but the only reason to own a device like this is to fire hundreds of rounds per minute.”
If passed, the legislation would make it illegal to possess, purchase, sell or transfer a “bump stock” device or any parts that accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle. Under the legislation, which has 14 co-sponsors, a person charged with possession of this kind of device would face up to five years in prison.
Investigators in Las Vegas discovered gunman Stephen Paddock used several of these devices in order to shoot hundreds of concert-goers in just minutes.
Several other states, including California, Ohio, Massachusetts, Missouri and New Jersey, have introduced legislation to ban these devices.
Longhurst has co-sponsored several gun safety measures over the years, including a law that passed in 2016 that closed a loophole allowing Delawareans to purchase firearms if a background check is delayed. Most Republicans voted against the legislation.
In a statement, McDowell said the new legislation is a “common sense” measure to protect peoples’ lives. Republican state Sen. Greg Lavelle, R-Sharpley has signed on as a co-sponsor.
“Some issues are complicated; this one is not. More than 30,000 people – roughly the population of Newark – die at the end of a gun each year. We can’t afford inaction on common sense gun safety reforms, and more than that we owe it to victims and their families to try and prevent tragedies like the massacre in Las Vegas,” McDowell said in a statement.
“Bump stocks serve only one purpose: making it fast and easy to kill a lot of people in a short amount of time. Companies that sell them are intentionally undermining the ban on assault weapons, something that enjoys more support than almost any other gun safety policy. Outlawing these devices closes a loophole that has killed many people and could kill many more.”