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'Bump Stock' Ban Fails Along Party Lines in N.H. Senate

Todd Bookman / NHPR

Along a party-line vote, the Republican-controlled New Hampshire Senate voted down a bill on Thursday that sought to ban so-called “bump stocks” in the state.

On the Senate floor, GOP Sen. Sharon Carson said the billwas poorly worded, and wouldn’t accomplish its goal of preventing mass shootings.

“Various parts of this legislation are incredibly broad and vague, creating multiple unintended consequences including unnecessarily prohibiting devices New Hampshire citizens lawfully use in competitions, hunting and self-defense,” said Carson.

Bump stocks came to national attention following the Las Vegas shooting last year that left 58 concert-goers dead. The devices attach to guns, allowing the shooter to increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic.

Democrats conceded that the measure needed more work. But prime sponsor Jeff Woodburn, the Democratic leader in the Senate, said the bill deserved more study in the form of a commission, which could bring in outside experts.

Republicans countered that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is already studying potential regulation of bump stocks, and that the state should wait for their results. The Senate voted 14-9 to send SB 492 to interim study, which is often described as a polite way to kill an unpopular measure.

In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, states including Massachusetts and New Jersey passed bans on bump stocks. A federal ban was introduced in Congress in the days following the massacre, but has since languished. 

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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