Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin says he wants the city to ban devices that can essentially turn a regular gun into an automatic weapon, but made sure to say this is not the beginning of an effort for a gun ban.
Benjamin officially released a draft of the ordinance that he's proposing to the full Columbia City Council.
It would explicitly ban the sale and possession of what are typically called "bump stocks." It also covers similar devices called trigger cranks or gat cranks.
Those devices, which are often put on semi-automatic rifles, can alter the weapon to create a rapid burst of fire comparable to what's released by fully automatic weapons. Fully automatic weapons have been illegal under federal law since the 1980s.
The ATF, however, said in 2010 of a bump stock device that they did not violate federal law. However, some in Congress have questioned that decision, and there's been a call to review and revise it.
The devices have gained extra notoriety since the Las Vegas mass shooting that left 58 people dead. The gunman in that massacre used a bump stock on a semi-automatic rifle to increase the rounds he could fire in a short amount of time, according to law enforcement in Nevada.
"This is wrong in every sense," Benjamin said of the devices.
Violating the ordinance would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a $500 fine or a maximum 30 days in jail.
South Carolina law bans local authorities from passing ordinances that restrict gun rights in any way, but Benjamin says because the devices are not actually parts of a gun, and because he feels they are a way to circumvent federal law, the city has the power to regulate them.
"It's not a part of a firearm...it's not a component into a firearm," he said.
Benjamin said he expects some criticism of his plan, and emphasized that he himself owns multiple guns. "I"m a gun guy," Benjamin stated.
He says city attorneys carefully crafted the wording so it would comply with state law. "This is not a gun ban, nor is there any interest in banning guns from law-abiding citizens."
According to the mayor, both Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook and Sheriff Leon Lott both support the ordinance.
"No one expects this will magically solve all of our problems," Benjamin sad. "This is just one piece of a much larger puzzle."
Benjamin says the ordinance will be introduced on December 5. He says the goal is to pass it before the end of next month.
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