guns

Massachusetts bump stock ban hearing has few takers

House | News | Politic

 

 

Although both chambers of the Commonwealth’s legislature have already passed a ban on bump stock devices, lawmakers held the first public hearing on the subject on Wednesday.

Few people attended the hearing, held by the Joint Committee on Public Safety, and only one speaker, state Rep. Donald Berthiaume, R-Spencer, addressed the panel, local media reported.

Berthiaume, one of just three lawmakers to vote against the sweeping House version of the prohibition last week, said he “never heard of a bump stock ever or trigger crank, and I’ve been shooting since I was a little kid” but was not inclined to support his chamber’s bill to ban them as he felt it was too vague.

That bill would bar the use on any rifle, shotgun or firearm of a device capable of increasing the rate of fire — a broad net that gun rights advocates argued could be interpreted to ensnare any number of gun accessories far beyond bump stocks. With no provision for grandfathering, those found guilty of possession of such devices would face between three and 20 years in prison.

The Senate version, which Berthiaume said he does back, sets more rigid definitions of “Bump stock” and “Trigger Crank,” regulating each in turn.

The Gun Owners’ Action League, the state’s National Rifle Association affiliate, said in a statement they do not support any legislative action on the devices but did credit the Senate version of the bill as stopping the “runaway train” of the robust House proposal which “granted unbridled regulatory authority to the Commonwealth over all firearms maintenance, enhancements, and modifications.”

Jim Wallace, head of the gun rights group, explained to media he chose not to speak at the hearing this week because there was no point in “testifying about something that has already happened.”

Lawmakers now must work out the differences between the two versions passed by the legislature before they can present the ban to Republican Gov. Charlie Baker who said he would sign anti-bump stock legislation “tomorrow” should it be presented to him.

Similar legislation is underway at the state level in Illinois, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington while at least three federal bills have been filed on Capitol Hill.

Female firearm instructor aims to train 1 million women

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As the number of female and minority gun owners continues to grow, one Georgia-based firearm instructor aims to teach black women how to shoot.

Marchell Tigner, owner of Trigger Happy Firearm Instruction, is a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor whose personal mission is to provide training to 1 million women.

“It’s important, especially for black women, to learn how to shoot. We need to learn how to defend ourselves,” Tigner told the Associated Press, noting that black women are more likely to become victims of domestic violence.

According to her website, Tigner, whose love of firearms stemmed from spending seven years in the National Guard and later working at a firing range, started her company last year after she noticed a lack of representation for black women in the gun community. Tigner said she worked at a firing range and would often see women trying to learn how to use a firearm at the instruction of their significant others, something which, she said, made her uncomfortable.

“Sometimes it’s hard to believe you can do something until you see someone who looks like you in that position,” Tigner noted.

Thus, Tigner’s firearm instruction company was formed.

As part of the training, Tigner provides plastic replicas to women as she goes over basic safety rules and proper stance, grip, and handling. The instruction then moves to the range where women learn to load a magazine and, finally, shoot the target.

“The bad guy’s dead. He’s not getting back up,” Tigner tells a student as they look over a bullet-riddled target during a recent class in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

The class was made up of about 20 women; some experienced with firearms, some not.

Jonava Johnson, 50, who attended the class, noted that gun ownership has also been rather frowned upon in the black community. Johnson admitted her own fear of guns, which stemmed from a domestic violence situation when she was just 17 years old. Johnson’s ex-boyfriend, armed with a gun, threatened her before he fatally shot Johnson’s new boyfriend in front of her.

About 30 years after she witnessed the death of her high school boyfriend, Johnson considered getting a gun after her daughter was sexually assaulted in their own home. Johnson instead decided to get a guard dog, but she’s now a proud gun owner.

“I hope I never have to kill anybody, but if it comes down to me or my children, they’re out,” Johnson said.

Tigner said it’s important for women to feel like they’re in control of their own safety.

“I’m just here to empower women and make sure that no one else becomes a victim,” she said.

 

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