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Bill Nelson sponsors bill to ban bump stocks for assault weapons

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Saying, “they are for killing,” Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson sponsored a bill Wednesday to ban so-called “bump stocks” like the ones Las Vegas police say Stephen Paddock used in his deadly slaughter Sunday night in Las Vegas.

“I’m a hunter and have owned guns my whole life,” Nelson stated in a news release. “But these automatic weapons are not for hunting, they are for killing. And this common-sense bill would, at the very least, make it harder for someone to convert a semi-automatic rifle into what is essentially a fully-automatic machine gun.”

The move was one of many gun law reform efforts renewed by Democrats in the wake of Paddock’s massacre Sunday night of 58 concert goers with a fast, steady flow of long-range bullets that also wounded more than 500.

On Monday gubernatorial candidate Chris King vowed to push for gun reforms. In Orlando, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith announced he had filed a state bill banning the sale of assault weapons and high-caliber magazines, a companion bill to the one state Sen. Linda Stewart, also of Orlando, filed more than a month ago. U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach called a press conference for Friday where she intends to introduce a federal bill outlawing those items and bump stocks.

Nelson’s bill also was sponsored by Democratic U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein of California, with 25 co-sponsors, including Democratic U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kamala Harris of California, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, plus independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The legislation would ban the sale, transfer, importation, manufacture or possession of bump stocks, trigger cranks and similar accessories that accelerate a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire.

While a typical semi-automatic rifle can fire at a rate of between 45 and 60 rounds per minute, a fully-automatic weapon can fire at a rate of 400 to 800 rounds per minute, Nelson’s office stated in the release.

The bill makes clear that its intent is to target only those accessories that increase a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire. Legitimate accessories used by hunters would be exempt. The bill also contains exceptions for lawful possession of these devices by law enforcement and the government.

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Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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