A bill banning the possession of firearms modified with bump stocks is expected to soon head to Hawaii Gov. David Ige for his consideration.

The state Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved legislation that prohibits owning bump stocks, multi-burst trigger activators and trigger cranks.

Senate Bill 2046 also prohibits the manufacture, import, sale and transfer of the devices, which can be attached to semi-automatic firearms to increase the rate of fire.

Speaking in support of the bill on the chamber floor, state Sen. Will Espero recalled the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting in October 2017 in which bump stocks were used.

Espero said the incident led to a call for national action, and yet it is the states that have had to take the lead in enacting bump stock laws as action at the federal level has stalled.

Senator Karl Rhoads makes an introduction of a person in the gallery during senate floor session.

Sen. Karl Rhoads during the floor session Wednesday. The bill he introduced on banning bump stocks is close to becoming law.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“Colleagues, we all know that we are one of the safest states in the nation for various reasons, but certainly because of the gun control laws which we have passed over the years,” Espero said. “I am very happy that we are taking the leadership on this measure as well.”

He added, “Certainly, this is needed and we don’t need any of the violence on the mainland to happen here.”

SB 2046 was supported by the Honolulu Police Department. Opponents included the Hawaii Rifle Association, the local arm of the NRA.

“It is over reaching and vague as regards common modifications to firearms which simply improve the function of a semi-auto firearm, but under this bill could turn an innocent gun owner into a felon,” the group’s president, Harvey Gerwig, wrote in testimony. “Bans of this type have absolutely zero effect on the criminal activity that they seek to achieve. Let the (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) do their job and decide how these devices should be regulated, if at all.”

The bill received little other opposition, however, initially passing the full Senate on March 6.

The House amended it to include language from House Bill 1908. That measure also called for criminalizing bump stocks and multi-burst triggers.

The Senate initially rejected the House’s language, sending the bill into conference committee to hash out differences.

One hang-up was the Hawaii Rifle Association’s opposition. But Sen. Clarence Nishihara said his colleagues decided Tuesday to accept the House version, setting up Wednesday’s final vote. The legislation is expected to be formally sent to the governor later this week.

The chief author of SB 2046 is Sen. Karl Rhoads. Rhoads and Nishihara are co-authors of another major piece of legislation regarding firearms that still awaits legislative action this week.

Senate Bill 2436 would reduce the time period for voluntary surrender of firearms and ammunition for people who have been disqualified from ownership.

It would cut the time period from 30 calendar days to seven, although supporters of the bill such as Everytown for Gun Safety prefer the time period be shortened to 24 hours.

Join the conversation in-person at Civil Beat’s Civil Cafe event, “Legislative Wrap-up 2018,” on Wednesday, May 2, at noon at the Capitol. Go to our RSVP page to register and get more information. 

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