Maryland lawmakers send bump stock ban to Gov. Hogan

Maryland lawmakers send bump stock ban to Gov. Hogan

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, seen here last week at a press conference, is expected to sign the country’s latest bump stock ban into law. (Photo: Joe Andrucyk/Office of the Governor)

The Maryland state Senate on Wednesday approved a House bill to outlaw “rapid fire trigger activators,” a measure Gov. Larry Hogan has promised to sign.

The bill, HB 888, bans bump stocks and a host of other devices that enable semi-auto firearms to fire at a theoretically higher rate. It saw final approval in a 35-11 vote and outlines a narrow allowance to grandfather some outlawed systems already in circulation should they meet unfinalized federal regulations. Hogan, a Republican, last month pledged support for a bump stock ban as part of a series of school safety enhancements.

“The Las Vegas mass shooting exposed a pretty glaring loophole in Maryland gun laws,” said Delegate David Moon, sponsor of the bill. “We found you can circumvent the purpose of the assault weapons ban by putting the device on your gun.”

The language of the bill would classify devices such as a bump stock, trigger crank, hellfire trigger, binary trigger system, burst trigger system, or a similar device as a “rapid fire trigger activator.”

If signed into law by Hogan, after October 2019, those possessing such a system would be liable to as much as three years in jail and a $5,000 fine — with even stiffer penalties if the activator is installed on a gun classified in Maryland as an assault weapon. The bill makes an exception for a semi-auto trigger replacement that is only meant to improve performance.

The only option to grandfather devices already in circulation would be if federal regulators institute a registration process and owners of qualifying activators seek to register their triggers, stocks and cranks before then. In short: no federal allowance, no bump stock.

That, argues Mark Pennak with Maryland Shall Issue, a Second Amendment group, could lead to a legal challenge. “Right now it’s just seizure of private property without any just compensation,” he said.

In the six months following their use in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting in Las Vegas that left 58 dead, lawmakers in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Washington have passed legislation banning bump stocks. Only the latter has moved to “buy back” devices in circulation and none offer a route to legal ownership.

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