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Author of new Denver bump stock ban hopes it gives a boost to action by the state

Author: Adam McCoy - January 23, 2018 - Updated: February 15, 2018

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A bump stock in action. (washingtonexaminer.com)

In the face of inaction across the country, the author of Denver’s new law banning bump stocks hopes it’s the spark needed to realize legislation at the state level.

Monday night, Denver became among the first cities in the country to ban bump stocks —  the device reportedly used by the shooter in the Las Vegas massacre to increase his weapons’ rate of fire. Columbia, S.C. is believed to be the first city to institute a ban, according to NPR.

The Denver City Council unanimously supported the ban, though the vote was split 11-1 because of debate over new limits on magazine size, Denverite reports.  

Bump stocks replace an assault rifle’s standard stock and frees the weapon to slide back and forth rapidly, channeling the energy from the weapon’s recoil. That allows for more rapid fire, nearly that of a fully automatic weapon. The device is most notable for its use in the Las Vegas massacre — the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

“Bump stocks can be purchased and mounted on a gun for about $100,” Eileen McCarron, President of Colorado Ceasefire Legislative Action said in a statement Monday.  “They essentially turn a firearm into a machine gun.”

After their reported use in the Las Vegas shooting, there was congressional energy focused on outlawing the device, with even the National Rifle Association initially onboard, but the push eventually waned.

“Congress failed to act, the Legislature has not acted. I saw an opportunity for Denver to lead the way,” Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, the author of the Denver ban, told Colorado Politics.

A candidate for Colorado Senate District 34, Kennedy-Shaffer said action in Denver may be the momentum needed for movement at the statehouse. He said he’s aiding state Sen. Michael Merrifield and other state lawmakers in their push for state legislation that would ban bump stocks.

“The Las Vegas shooting was jarring,” Kennedy-Shaffer, who is also an attorney and member of the armed forces, said. “It became crystal clear that we had to do something to take action to prevent it from happening again. Banning bump stocks is the first step.”

The legislation introduced by Denver Councilman Rafael Espinoza amends the city’s existing ordinance banning assault weapons to make it illegal to sell, carry, store or otherwise possess a bump stock.

The measure also now makes it unlawful to have a magazine capable of holding more than 15 rounds. The old standard was 21 rounds in Denver; the change will bring the city into compliance with existing state law.

While he supported the ban, Councilman Kevin Flynn cast the lone no vote Monday night over the elimination of a “grandfather” clause (existing in the state law) which grants an exception to the rule for  people who owned their magazines before July 1, 2013.

Kennedy-Shaffer acknowledged the possibility of legal challenges to the measure from opponents like the NRA, but said he’s confident of its legality.

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy

Adam McCoy covers Denver-area politics for Colorado Politics.