Republicans on a Senate subcommittee killed a bill to ban firearm “bump stocks” on Wednesday after a victim of the Las Vegas concert shooting last year asked them to advance the bill to the Senate floor.
Members of the public safety subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee voted 3-2 to end Sen. Adam Ebbin’s Senate Bill 1, which had previously cleared the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.
The bill would have banned the manufacture, import, sale or offer to sell, possession, transfer or transportation of any device used to increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic firearm.
Republicans in a House subcommittee had already killed a similar bill in their chamber.
The two-year budget proposed by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe and now being reviewed by lawmakers includes $50,000 to cover the cost of incarcerating someone should they be charged and convicted of a misdemeanor under the potential new law.
But Sen. Ryan McDougle, R-Hanover, said cost was a factor in deciding whether the bill should go forward.
Cortney Carroll of Short Pump was among concertgoers at the mass shooting in Las Vegas on Oct. 1 that left 58 dead and hundreds injured; the shooter had modified his firearms with such devices. Carroll, who has lobbied lawmakers in Virginia this year to ban bump stocks, told the subcommittee on Wednesday that the cost of not doing so and then assisting victims of a mass shooting would far outweigh $50,000.
“In the long run, there’s a lot of money that’s going to go into it if another tragedy occurs,” she said.
McDougle said it would be difficult for senators to make such a determination.
“There’s no way for us to account for deterrent impacts in the budget,” he said. “And it’s tough, but that’s one of the policy decisions that is very challenging for us.”
Sen. Bill Carrico, R-Grayson, said the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, not a state law, is the appropriate way to address regulations on bump stocks.
Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Rockingham, joined McDougle and Carrico in stopping the bill. Sens. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, and Janet Howell, D-Fairfax, voted to advance it to the floor.
“I do think that were we to have an incident like Las Vegas, we would look back in horror at what we had done by not putting in $50,000,” Howell said.