Expressing extreme concern about the role "bump stocks" played in the recent Las Vegas tragedy, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today joined a bipartisan letter to Congressional leaders urging them to close a loophole in current federal gun laws.
The bipartisan letter includes support from a broad group of attorneys general from U.S. states and territories. The letter notes that bump stock devices – a plastic or metal piece attached to a firearm's stock designed to increase the ability to fire like a fully automatic weapon – may be used to evade the machinegun laws that are currently in place.
It has been widely reported that the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, modified otherwise lawful semi-automatic rifles with "bump stocks" to kill 58 innocent people and injure hundreds more. The attorneys general urge Congress to evaluate whether bump stocks should be regulated like machineguns in order to protect residents from the dangers posed by unrestricted fully automatic weapons.
"This is not a partisan issue, as demonstrated by the number of Republican and Democrat attorneys general who support closing the bump stock loophole. While such use of bump stocks is already illegal in Rhode Island, I believe it is prudent for Congress to take action on the issue, and do so quickly," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
Since 1986, when Congress enacted the Firearm Owners Protection Act to amend the Gun Control Act of 1968, fully automatic weapons and "machineguns" have been restricted, making it unlawful for civilians to possess a machinegun unless the firearm was acquired prior to the Act's effective date.
According to the letter, bump stocks can "mimic fully automatic machinegun fire and therefore lead to disastrous consequences in the wrong hands." The attorneys general also state that Congress "should carefully consider whether bump stocks have created a loophole in the machinegun laws" when considering any news laws.
Joining Attorney General Kilmartin in today's letter are the attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Virginia, and Wisconsin.