Hawaii lawmakers propose measure that would ban 'bump stocks'

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A hearing on a bill that would prohibit multi-burst triggers on firearms, also referred to as "bump stocks," and other trigger modifications is expected to generate a lot of attention and testimony at the state Capitol Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump directed the Justice Department to ban gun modifications like bump stocks, which was used in the Las Vegas massacre that killed 58 people and injured 489 last October — the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history.

The measure Hawaii lawmakers are considering has already passed out of the House Judiciary Committee, and will now be heard Wednesday afternoon by the House Committee on Consumer Protection and Commerce.

The hearing is expected to spark a heated debate, and if the testimony submitted online is any indication, it appears the majority of those who are likely to attend will be voicing their opposition. This may be in part due to an effort by the National Rifle Association, which urged members to "take action" and contact representatives on the committee to express they're against the bill.

House Bill 1908 would amend state law so that anyone who manufactures, imports into Hawaii, offers for sale, or who gives, lends, or possesses any multi-burst trigger activator would be guilty of a class C felony.

Such triggers typically modify semiautomatic weapons so they simulate automatic gunfire.

For example, bump stocks, which fit over the stock and pistol grip of a semi-automatic rifle, allows the weapon to fire as many as 400 to 800 rounds per minute. The issue of bump stocks came to light in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting. The gunman used a bump stock; 58 people were killed and hundreds were injured.

Existing state law already prohibits machine guns or firearms that shoot several rounds with one activation, which is why many of those who oppose the bill say it's unnecessary.

"This and most other gun control measures do nothing but turn honest, law-abiding citizens into criminals," one testifier who opposes the measure wrote. "Firearms owners in this state have already proven themselves to be among the most law abiding in this country."

Other critics, meanwhile, say the proposal is too restrictive and too broad in its scope — saying regulation should be left to federal law, which already bans machine guns.

The president of the Hawaii Rifle Association writes: "This law would make the simple possession of a trigger device a FELONY, thus depriving that person of his Second Amendment rights for life. If you would like to alter this bill to state that any person using such a device in the commission of a crime may be charged with an additional felony we would not oppose that law, however, all reference to possession would need to be removed."

There was limited written testimony online urging lawmakers to pass the bill.

However, it does have the support of the Honolulu Police Department and the Maui County Prosecuting Attorney, along with Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, who writes: "I hope that even the most ardent firearm enthusiast agrees that there is no legitimate need for devices that accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic firearm."

The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m. Wednesday in Room 329 at the state Capitol.

Lawmakers are also expected to make a decision on Wednesday. iI it passes out of this committee, it heads next to a full vote on the House floor.

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