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Massachusetts Gun Groups Consider Legal Action to Block New Bump Stock Law

Outraged Massachusetts gun-advocacy groups are considering legal action to block a new state law that forces gun owners to surrender their bump stocks and trigger cranks by Feb. 1 or face criminal prosecution.

Gun owners in Colorado and Delaware might soon be calling their lawyers, too.

"When the government sends you a letter telling you that you have to turn in property that you legally purchased, without compensation, people get pretty twisted about that," said Brent Carlton, president of Commonwealth Second Amendment (Comm2A).

"There seems to be a very obvious constitutional violation here," he said. "If the government banned leaf blowers and told people to turn them over, they'd want their money back.”

The Gun Owners’ Action League (GOAL), in a January blog post, called the new law “illegal and unconstitutional.” GOAL also said the “most egregious” part of it was that “owners of bump stocks and trigger cranks have only one legal path to follow, turning the device into the police.”

“There is no mention as to how an individual who chooses to comply with this law will be able to show proof that they did,” the blog also noted. “There is no mention about what the police will do with these devices upon receiving them.”

The new law, which was the first of its kind in the nation, was approved after the Las Vegas massacre. The shooter was said to use a bump stock to create nearly automatic gunfire, allowing him to shoot more than 1,100 rounds into a crowd of 22,000.

Fifty-seven were killed. More than 540 were wounded.

The Massachusetts law defined a “bump stock” as “any device for a weapon that increases the rate of fire achievable with such weapon by using energy from the recoil of such weapon to generate a reciprocating action that facilitates repeated activation of the trigger.”

A “trigger crank” is said to be “any device to be attached to a gun that repeatedly activates the trigger of the weapon through the use of a lever or other part that is turned in a circular motion.”

Anyone caught with a bump stock or trigger crank in Massachusetts could be sentenced to as little as 18 months behind bars or even life in prison.

"There are no exceptions to this prohibition for licensed firearm owners: a firearms ID card, a license to carry, or even a license to possess a machine gun will not authorize possession of a bump stock or a trigger crank,” Daniel Bennett, Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety, wrote in a December letter that went out to gun owners.

While efforts to pass similar federal legislation in Congress collapsed a month after the Las Vegas massacre, gun owners in Colorado or Delaware could soon face an order nearly identical to what their compatriots in Massachusetts are dealing with.