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Bill to Ban Gun 'Bump Stocks' in N.H. Gets Public Hearing

Todd Bookman/NHPR

In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting last October, New Hampshire lawmakers are considering a ban on so-called “bump stocks” in the state.

When Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more during a country music concert, guns found in his hotel room were reportedly equipped with bump stock accessories that sped up their firing rate.

In response, Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill to ban the sale, manufacture, use or possession of bump stocks in New Hampshire. During Thursday’s public hearing on Senate Bill 492, co-sponsor Jeff Woodburn, who represents the state’s rural northern communities, called it a practical step.

“There is no reasonable sportsman who would claim they need this kind of firepower for recreational purposes or hunting purposes,” said Woodburn.

Woodburn noted that states, including Massachusetts and New Jersey, passed similar bans on bump stocks following the mass shooting in Las Vegas.

Gun rights advocacy groups, however, criticized the bill as overly broad and poorly worded, saying it would prohibit a range of other gun accessories commonly used in marksmanship competitions.  

Mitch Kopacz, who is president of Gun Owners of New Hampshire, said the bill is a “knee-jerk reaction” that won’t prevent acts of violence.

“It’s an unfortunate part of society. There are bad people, that are going to do bad things,” he said. “But what you are going to do is take away the products that good people can use to defend themselves against bad people.”

“It’s the person, not the device,” he added.

A federal bill to ban bump stocks remains stalled in Washington. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is currently reviewing whether it has the legal authority to regulate the devices. 

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University.

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