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Columbia’s bump stock ban one of nation’s first gun-related laws of its kind

'Bump stock:' Watch a demonstration and learn how the gun device works

The deadly Las Vegas shooting brought to light the use of a device called a "bump stock,” which allows a semi-automatic rifle to mimic a fully automatic ones. Critics say that the device disregards current federal restrictions on automatic guns, b
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The deadly Las Vegas shooting brought to light the use of a device called a "bump stock,” which allows a semi-automatic rifle to mimic a fully automatic ones. Critics say that the device disregards current federal restrictions on automatic guns, b

The City of Columbia passed an ordinance Tuesday that bans the use of bump stocks and trigger cranks.

Columbia’s ordinance, which was introduced at the Dec. 5 City Council meeting, makes it illegal to attach bump stocks or trigger cranks to any guns within the city, except by military or law enforcement personnel. It would still be legal to own those devices, so long as they are stored in separate containers from firearms.

Bump stocks and trigger cranks are firearm attachments that can turn legal guns into weapons that simulate illegal, fully automatic gunfire.

“I believe in responsible gun ownership, and I believe in common sense,” Mayor Steve Benjamin said in a news release. “That’s why we’ve decided to do what our federal and state governments are either unable or unwilling to do and act by banning the use of bump stocks and trigger cranks in our city. This is not the first time we’ve taken the lead, but it may be the most important.”

Columbia is one of the first cities – if not the first – in the country to ban the use of controversial bump stocks and trigger cranks. It is not clear whether any other American cities have a similar law regarding bump stocks or trigger cranks. But Benjamin told The State last month he believes Columbia might become the first.

Critics have questioned whether it is legal for the city to institute such a ban, as South Carolina law prohibits local governments from regulating firearms or firearm components.

But city leaders say their ordinance is legally sound, arguing that bump stocks and similar devices are not firearm components, but rather attachments. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also says that bump stocks are not considered a firearm part.

Catherine Templeton, a Charleston attorney running for governor, was critical of Columbia leaders when they introduced the bump stock ordinance.

“Columbia politicians are completely out of touch with our conservative values. You come for my guns, and I’ll come for your seat!” Templeton posted on Twitter.

Staff writer Sarah Ellis contributed to this report.

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