Del. urges filing with ATF for bump stocks
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.”