By Kaela Dockray ’20
The Connecticut House of Representatives voted in favor of passing a bill banning the usage of rapid-fire devices known as bump stocks on May 8. Lawmakers voted 114-35 to approve this legislation which will make the purchase and use of enhancements or modification devices that enable guns to fire like automatic weapons illegal. After a five and a half hour debate, the House reached a consensus and the legislation will now move to the Senate floor.
Students who attended the public hearing in Hartford in March, where the bill to ban bump stocks went before the Judiciary Committee, feel these measures are vital to the safety of the Westport community and the state of Connecticut at large.
“This is a huge step for us because it means this bill is on its way to becoming a law,” Andie Pines ’20, who submitted testimony in favor of this bill, said. “Legally banning bump stocks makes us one step closer to sensible gun control in Connecticut.”
Despite the bipartisan majority within the House, there are both Democratic and Republican representatives who oppose this legislation with the mindset that it will criminalize citizens who are already legally in possession of these devices. “It is not our role as legislators to be the overlords of our constituents and tell them what they can and cannot do,” Rob Sampson, Republican Representative, said to the CT Mirror. “I don’t think it’s our job to start banning things because people in this room think that other people can’t be trusted with them.”
Several states around the nation have passed or are considering enacting legislation banning bump stocks after these enhancements were used in Las Vegas in October of 2017, killing nearly 60 people and injuring hundreds more. Third Selectwoman Melissa Kane sees this instance as proof of the harm these modification devices can inflict. “Bump stocks manage to bypass laws,” Kane said. “It’s incredibly dangerous and they’re not traceable.”
The bill is expected to be debated among the Senate within the next week. “I am extremely hopeful this bill will go in the same direction as it did in the House,” Pines said. “Bump stocks allow semi-automatic rifles to have the firing capabilities of a machine gun, which in my opinion can do nothing but kill.”