Among the gun control issues raised by the tragic shooting in Las Vegas was a move to ban “bump stocks” which increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic weapons.
The Maryland Legislature, among several gun measures, enacted and the governor signed Senate Bill 707 to address guns containing a “Rapid Fire Trigger Activator.”
The statute defines several types of systems on a firearm. The law describes a bump stock to mean “a device that, when installed in or attached to a firearm, increases the rate of fire of the firearm by using energy from the recoil of the firearm to generate a reciprocating action that facilitates repeated activation of the trigger.”
It more broadly defines a “rapid fire trigger activator” to mean “any device, including a manual or power driven activating device, constructed so that…the rate of fire increases.” Bump stocks and other types of trigger systems are included within that definition.
The new law then provides that a person may not transport a rapid fire trigger activator into Maryland, or “manufacture, possess, sell, offer to sell, transfer, purchase, or receive a rapid fire trigger applicator.”
According to news reports apparently because at least one member of the legislature already owned a gun with such a device, the law does not apply to a person who possesses such a weapon before the law takes effect on October 1, 2018 or otherwise applied to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms before that date for authorization to possess such a weapon.
Persons who violate this law are subject to imprisonment for up to three years or a fine not exceeding $5,000.
In order to enhance penalties for use of such weapons, the law adds to penalties for use of an assault weapon enhanced punishment for use of a rapid fire trigger activator in a crime of violence.
A person convicted of such an offense is subject to a separate penalty of not less than 5 nor more than 20 years in prison.
Five years is the mandatory minimum sentence for such an offense.
At least in Maryland, the ban on bump stocks did not generate much controversy in the legislature, though reportedly fewer than a half dozen states have to date taken such action.
Thomas Patrick Ryan is a partner in the Rockville law firm of McCarthy Wilson, which specializes in civil litigation.