About a month after Columbia officials passed a law banning bump stocks, trigger cranks and other gun accessories that simulate automatic gunfire, a group of state lawmakers has introduced legislation that, if passed, could overturn that ban.
A bill introduced Jan. 24 in the S.C. House would prohibit local governments from regulating any firearm accessories. It would be an addition to a state law already prohibiting local governments from regulating firearms, ammunition and firearm components.
If passed into law, it would effectively nullify Columbia’s new bump stock ban.
Columbia City Council passed its bump stock ban on Dec. 19, largely in response to the mass shooting in Las Vegas last October. The Vegas gunman, who killed 58 people and wounded 500 others, reportedly had a number of guns modified with bump stocks in his hotel room arsenal.
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Bump stocks and trigger cranks are attachments that turn legal guns into weapons that simulate illegal, fully automatic firearms.
Columbia’s new law makes it illegal to attach such devices to any guns within the city, except by military or law enforcement personnel. It is legal to own those devices, so long as they are stored in separate containers from firearms.
Some critics argued that state law already prohibits the city from issuing such a ban. City officials, however, said their law is legally sound.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said the new House proposal would, in effect, “expressly legalize bump stocks” in South Carolina.
That is, unless the state itself issued a ban on bump stocks.
To that end, state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, along with several co-sponsors, already has introduced a bill that would ban bump stocks and any other devices designed to accelerate the rate of fire of an automatic weapon.
The new attempt to block the city’s ban is “not good good policy and inconsistent with the values and priorities of most gun owners and 2nd Amendment advocates,” Benjamin said Thursday.
The bill that could overturn Columbia’s bump stock ban is co-sponsored by state representatives Jonathon Hill, R-Anderson; Craig Gagnon, R-Abbeville; Anne Thayer, R-Anderson; and Joshua Putnam, R-Anderson.
An effort to reach Hill, the bill’s primary sponsor, for comment was not successful Thursday afternoon.