Lexington, SC (WLTX) – Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin presented an ordinance proposal Thursday that would ban bump stocks, trigger cranks and gat cranks from city limits.
The ordinance is in direct response to the shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people, not including the shooter, the worst mass shooting in modern American history.
Law enforcement in Nevada says the gunman used a bump stock during his shooting rampage. Officers say that allowed a burst of gunfire that was similar to what one would see with a fully automatic weapon.
“The simple fact is that automatic weapons have been illegal in this country for more than 30 years,” the mayor said. “The only purpose that these devices serve is to circumvent that law by multiplying firing rates 10 fold to approximately 400-800 rounds per minute and turning a semi-automatic firearm into a mass murder machine. This is wrong in every sense.”
He said he has support from the Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook and Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott on the proposal.
“No one expects that passing this ordinance will magically solve all of our problems,” Benjamin explained. “But that alone should not stop us from moving forward because the other choice is that we do nothing and that is not an option.”
The mayor said he also wanted to make it clear that he is “a gun guy” and a defender of the second amendment.
Gun advocates have already come out against the mayor’s ordinance proposal.
Attorney Mark Schnee said he won a case against the mayor and city of Columbia just last year which prevents then to pass this type of ordinance.
He said a ban on bump stocks or trigger cranks is prohibited by state law and above the city’s authority.
He also said the device itself is not the issue.
“The bump stock didn’t kill people since that’s what this particular ordinance is about. I don’t know if this would’ve prevented the number of people killed in Las Vegas, no one knows that for sure,” the attorney said. “That’s not going to stop mass shootings, it’s a people problem. We have a DUI problem where people get killed in car accidents, we don’t ban alcohol, we don’t ban cars.”
Schnee said people have already called him and are ready to take legal action against the mayor and the city of Columbia if the ordinance is passed.
Benjamin said state law does allow him to pass the ordinance since the devices are not a component of a firearm but attachments.
“This is well within our authority,” Benjamin said.
We also spoke with the spokesman for Palmetto State Armory.
They said they do not have a stance on the ban but that they will continue to be supporters of the second amendment and will see how this plays out.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have all the answers but we’d be more than willing to indulge in conversation to try to help find that answer,” Palmetto State Armory’s Adam Ruonala said of mass shootings. “Our stance has to be that if our government says it is a second amendment right of ours then we have to still support that right, but at the same time, we hope that all people that operate a firearm or any accessory based with it do it in the most responsible way.”
He said the store has sold both bump stocks and trigger cranks in the past and are holding off on their sale for now.
“We’re going to continue to support the 2A movement as a whole, and if an accessory is what everybody’s focusing on we think that they’re missing the message as a whole, which is proper and responsible firearms ownership in this country so as for now we have kind of taking a hold on the stance and letting the officials who have been voted in to handle this, handle it and then we’ll make our moves from there,” the spokesman said.
Benjamin said he hopes the ordinance can be passed by the end of this year. It will be discussed at the December 5 city council meeting.