Democratic legislators propose ban on bump stocks, ‘ghost guns’

NEW HAVEN — Democratic members of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee announced Monday they will propose legislation during the upcoming session to ban bump stocks and so-called “ghost guns.”

State Rep. William Tong, D-Stamford, and House chairman of the committee, said it’s important for the General Assembly to “stay ahead of the game,” as individuals seek to turn a profit by exploiting legal loopholes in federal and state gun laws.

Bump stocks, Tong said, are mechanisms that attach to a semi-automatic weapon and allow it to fire faster, mimicking the firing rate of an automatic weapon. Bump stocks were brought to national consciousness, he said, following a mass shooting on the Las Vegas strip last year that left 58 people dead.

Ghost guns are weapons that are partially completed and can’t fire, so they don’t meet the federal definition of a firearm and have no serial or registration numbers law enforcement uses to trace firearms. The firearm can be made operational by modifications made at home or in a workshop.

CT Against Gun Violence Executive Director Jeremy Stein said all someone would need is “a credit card and a drill they can get at Home Depot” to turn one of these ghost guns into a functional rifle, which is how someone who could not pass a requisite background check could be in possession of a deadly weapon.

In the northeast area, New Jersey and Massachusetts both have passed legislation banning bump stocks, he noted.

Mayor Toni Harp, a former state senator, said Connecticut’s gun laws are “common sense gun laws.” It “flies in the face of common sense” to have “something as inherently dangerous and potentially lethal” as bump stocks or ghost guns on the market, she said.

Although Harp and several others at the press conference at Church on the Rock on Hamilton Street described the measures to close loopholes as “common sense,” Rep. Roland Lemar, D-New Haven, said Democrats should expect “fierce opposition from lobbyists” who will claim it as an infringement on their liberties.

“We cannot wait for the federal government to act,” he said. “We’ve been waiting decades.”

A spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a trade association for the firearms industry, said the organization doesn’t comment on prospective legislation and would review proposed legislation when and if it were filed.

Rep. Steven Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said the legislation to be proposed will ensure the “spirit and intent of our gun laws are being honored.”

New Haven, like Bridgeport, he said, understands “the scourge of urban violence.”

Stein said ghost guns are “virtually untraceable” because they are manufactured and sold without serial numbers.

“We need to assist our men and women in blue,” he said.

Tong credited New Haven for being a city leader in low crime rates in the state and nationally, but said the legislature must be diligent to keep the rates of gun deaths low.

“The world changes every seven minutes,” he said. “The legislature has to stay ahead of the game.”