WASHINGTON — Outgoing Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe will propose a ban on a device police said was used by the Las Vegas shooter to make a gun fully automatic, and both leading candidates to replace the governor said Friday they would support the legislation if elected.
“In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, much attention has been paid to the ‘bump stock’ device that allowed the shooter to kill and injure so many people in such a short period of time. We have a responsibility to ban that device in Virginia, and I will introduce legislation this session to do just that,” McAuliffe said in a statement Friday.
Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat running to succeed McAuliffe, said he too would propose legislation to ban the devices.
“I’ve seen the damage automatic weapons can do to a human body, and let me tell you — they’re restricted for a reason. Bump stocks and high-capacity magazines have no place in civil society, nor do assault weapons,” Northam said in a statement. He said he would also push to expand background check requirements on additional gun sales.
GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie said, like many others, that he had not heard of bump stocks before the Las Vegas shooting, which he called a “heinous act of evil.”
Fifty-eight people were killed and more than 500 others were injured after investigators say Stephen Paddock opened fire on an outdoor country concert on Sunday.
“It seems pretty evident to me that we, rightly, outlaw automatic weapons in this country and that bump stocks effectively serve to get around that law and that ban, and if there’s a device that allows you to circumvent the law, I think it’s perfectly legitimate to regulate and ban that device to make sure that you cannot circumvent what is a rightful ban on automatic weapons in this country,” Gillespie said on a phone call with reporters Friday.
Gillespie emphasized that he does not believe other restrictions on gun ownership would make citizens any safer.
The bump stock device allows a shooter to fire continuously from a semi-automatic rifle.
Following the shooting, the National Rifle Association suggested regulations could apply to the device rather than any new laws.
McAuliffe also plans to propose legislation that would ban the sale or possession of high-capacity magazines in Virginia as well as “military-style assault rifles.”
“Those guns and magazines were not created for hunting or self-protection — they exist to allow a shooter to wound or kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Today, a person with intentions of committing the next mass shooting can walk into gun stores or shows across our Commonwealth and walk out with these weapons of war,” McAuliffe said.
Although he won’t be in office to push for gun law changes during the upcoming General Asembly session, McAuliffe also wants Virginia to reinstate a law that limited buyers to purchasing one handgun per month.
Governors in Virginia are not allowed to serve consecutive terms. Voters head to the polls on Nov. 7.