HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday night banning rapid-fire devices known as bump stocks.
Lawmakers voted 114-35 to approve legislation that would ban enhancements like bump stocks that enable guns to fire like automatic weapons.
Bump stocks were used in the October 2017 shooting at a Las Vegas concert that left 58 people dead and more than 800 others injured.
"I cannot see one legitimate reason why anyone needs to own a bump stock other than for the mass shooting of people," said Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who proposed the ban earlier this year. "The language that was approved today represents a strong, smart approach to this issue."
The legislation would make it a crime to sell, purchase, use or manufacture the devices. Violators would face a felony charge, punishable by up to five years in prison, a fine of up to $5,000, or both. The bill also would require anyone who has such a device — within 90 days of moving to Connecticut — to render it permanently inoperable, remove it from the state or surrender it so it can be destroyed.
"Because these new products provide a way to bypass the common-sense laws we've enacted to stop gun violence while respecting the rights of gun owners, we now need this legislation," said Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, a co-chairman of the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee.
While proponents contend the bill is needed to protect public safety, opponents argue it is unnecessary and they expect it will be banned at the federal level in the coming months.
"We are banning an item that has never ever been involved in a crime in our state," said Rep. Rob Sampson, R-Wolcott, who argued the legislation is "more about politics than policy." He suggested gun control advocates are "almost out of ideas" after a wide-ranging gun control legislation passed after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
But Rep. Joe de la Cruz, D-Groton, said this ban could save lives, building upon Connecticut's existing, stringent gun control laws.
"We're actually a beacon for the country," he said. "We shouldn't stop where we're at."
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.