Policy

It Is Officially Illegal to Possess a Bump Stock in Massachusetts

The state's ban is firmly in place, and the time to relinquish the gun accessory has expired.


Photo via AP/Rick Bowmer

The bump stock ban is officially in full effect in Massachusetts, as the Bay State becomes the first in the nation to put in place legislation restricting the device following last year’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

As of Thursday, it is illegal to possess a bump stock in Massachusetts, even if it was purchased prior to the law’s ratification. The device is used to speed up semi-automatic fire, essentially converting a legal firearm into an automatic weapon. The gunman who killed 58 people and wounded more than 400 others at a Las Vegas concert in October outfitted his arsenal with bump stocks.

On November 3, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito signed a law banning the buying and selling of bump stocks in Massachusetts (Charlie Baker was out of town at the time). Gun owners then had 90 days to turn the devices they already owned over to the state, which did not offer any compensation. The clock expired on Thursday, and people caught with bump stocks can now face up to a three-year sentence, according to NEPR.

Gun rights advocates opposed the measure, which was passed as part of the state’s $85 million budget bill at the end of last year. The Gun Owners Action League of Massachusetts, which is affiliated with the National Rifle Association, said the provision “allows for excessive punishment… for the mere possession of these accessories,” according to WBUR.

Jim Wallace, the executive director of the Gun Owners’ Action League, criticized the lack of a buyback program and said the state legislature had “a knee-jerk reaction,” in an interview with NEPR.

On the other hand, gun reform advocates lauded the quick action. Rep. David Linsky, the Natick Democrat who filed the amendment, said in a statement in November that he was “proud of our Commonwealth for continuing to enact some of the strongest gun laws in the country.”

Bump stocks have been banned in California since 1990, but the Massachusetts law is the first to be enacted after the Las Vegas massacre and to explicitly mention the device by name.