Del. urges fil­ing with ATF for bump stocks

Maryland Independent - - News - By JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­ski@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Jac­quiEn­tNews

It ap­pears no amount of pa­per­work is go­ing to save bump stocks from be­ing banned in Mary­land in a few days.

Del. Deb Rey (R-St. Mary’s) said that gun own­ers in the state should file an ap­pli­ca­tion with the Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives to con­tinue legally own­ing bump stocks and other “rapid-fire trig­ger ac­ti­va­tors” by Oct. 1. How­ever, ATF said in an April state­ment they have no au­thor­ity to ac­cept and process such ap­pli­ca­tions.

Rey said she shared the mes­sage from the non­par­ti­san gun rights or­ga­ni­za­tion “Mary­land Shall Is­sue” about the sta­tus of their court case against the state’s ban on the pos­ses­sion of rapid-fire trig­ger ac­ti­va­tors, com­monly known as bump stocks. The de­vices can in­crease the rate of fire in semi-au­to­matic weapons.

Rey said her fol­low­ers are con­cerned that the bill passed ear­lier this year will en­able law­mak­ers to “take away their guns” be­cause of how vaguely the law is writ­ten.

In March, Rey said she was work­ing with the bills’ spon­sors to “to shrink the def­i­ni­tion of” the firearm mod­i­fiers so the bill would be more spe­cific. She did even­tu­ally vote yes on the House bill.

Brian Crosby, the Demo­cratic can­di­date for Rey’s District 29B state del­e­gate seat, said dur­ing a phone in­ter­view last week that he didn’t un­der­stand why Rey was at­tempt­ing to “waste tax­payer dol­lars” by “flood­ing an un­der­staffed gov­ern­ment agency with” the ap­pli­ca­tions.

He said he won­dered “which side of the aisle she’s on,” be­cause she voted for the bump stock ban ear­lier this year. He asked if she’s try­ing to “keep the heat off her un­til af­ter the elec­tion.”

As a for­mer Army Ranger, Crosby said he’s “been in dou­ble-digit gun fights” and it takes “pro­longed train­ing [and] con­fi­dence” to use bump stocks.

He said us­ing a bump stock “makes you less ac­cu­rate and less ef­fec­tive.” He said he wouldn’t com­ment on if the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple use bump stocks for sport, hunt­ing or pro­tec­tion.

Crosby said of the 25 bills Rey has re­cently spon­sored, 16 were about firearms. He said, “none of those bills have got­ten out of com­mit­tee. She’s in­ef­fec­tive … for the re­gion.”

Af­ter the elec­tion, Rey said she plans to talk with Sen. Vic­tor Ramirez (D-Prince Ge­orge’s) and Del. David Moon (D-Mont­gomery), who pro­posed the orig­i­nal leg­is­la­tion in the state Se­nate and House of Del­e­gates. She said she’s not talked with ei­ther re­cently about the law.

Rey said she and other law­mak­ers have a year “to tighten up the lan­guage … so it doesn’t cover all firearms.” De­pend­ing on who is in­ter­pret­ing the law, Rey said that clean­ing a gun could po­ten­tially in­crease the rate of fire and qual­ify for the ban.

Rey said she’s talked with a li­ai­son with the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion to present “a bet­ter def­i­ni­tion of bump stocks” dur­ing the next legislative ses­sion start­ing in Jan­uary, and “nar­row the fo­cus of” the leg­is­la­tion to “what I be­lieve the orig­i­nal spon­sors had in­tended.

“We re­ally need to clean up the lan­guage” in the law, she said.

Rey said in her news­let­ter that “we need the Gen­eral As­sem­bly to take this up again and ad­dress the is­sues.” She asked that peo­ple “con­sider pro­tect­ing your­self by send­ing the let­ter to the ATF be­fore Oct. 1, 2018, as MSI rec­om­mends.”

ATF said in a re­lease ear­lier this year that Mary­land res­i­dents should “not file ap­pli­ca­tions or other re­quests” for con­tin­u­ing legally own­ing the ac­ces­sories be­cause any “ap­pli­ca­tions or re­quests will be re­turned … with­out ac­tion.”

Rey said that peo­ple who are con­cerned should ap­ply for the au­tho­riza­tion “re­gard­less of what ATF” is do­ing.

Moon, who cross filed the sim­i­lar House Bill 888, said in an email last week that the ATF pro­vi­sion was not in­cluded in his orig­i­nal draft of the leg­is­la­tion and state lead­ers “did not want to grand­fa­ther own­er­ship of any ex­ist­ing bump stocks and in­stead sought to ban them all.”

Moon states that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ear­lier this year “promised ATF would be­gin to reg­u­late bump stocks,” so an amend­ment was added.

If the ATF had cre­ated a “reg­u­la­tory scheme” to al­low gun own­ers with the ac­ces­sory to reg­is­ter and keep their de­vices, this would be ac­cept­able un­der Mary­land law, Moon said.

He said this ac­tion “tracks what hap­pened with ma­chine guns when they were banned na­tion­ally in the late 1980s,” when ex­ist­ing own­ers could reg­is­ter their guns with ATF and keep them, “plac­ing trans­fer of these guns un­der tightly watched and reg­u­lated ATF con­trol.”

Moon said with bump stocks and other rapid fire arm ac­ces­sories “ATF won’t com­plete their bump stock regs in time to meet the Mary­land dead­line.”

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