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Capital of South Carolina could become the first US city to ban the use of bump stocks on guns

Columbia, South Carolina, could become the first U.S. city to ban bump stocks on guns if the city council passes the legislation Tuesday night. (George Frey/Getty Images)

South Carolina's capital city, Columbia, could become the first U.S. city to ban the use of bump stocks on guns if the city council votes to pass the ordinance Tuesday night.

What is a bump stock?

A bump stock is a device that attaches to a semiautomatic rifle and allows it to fire hundreds of rounds a minute like a fully automatic machine gun.

Bump stocks have come under scrutiny after authorities said they found 12 bump stocks in Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock's hotel suite following the massacre that claimed 58 lives at a country concert in October.

What's the story?

Columbia’s proposed ordinance would make it illegal to attach bump stocks to any guns within the city, except by military or law enforcement personnel, The State reported.

It would still be legal to own the devices, but they must be stored separately from the firearms.

“One of the common refrains that you hear whether it was in Texas or Vegas or Sandy Hook is that a good guy with a gun could have stopped the carnage,” Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin told Reuters in a phone interview on Monday. “It’s time for the good guys with guns to begin to pass some really good policy.”

The ordinance would also ban trigger cranks, which attach to a firearm's trigger and allow them to fire rapidly by turning a crank.

Benjamin, a Democrat, proposed the measure to the city council last month, according to The State. 

Can local government pass such laws?

Some critics have questioned whether a city has the authority to prohibit the gun attachments. But Columbia's city leaders are confident their ordinance is legally sound. They argue that bump stocks are gun attachments, not firearm components.

In October, city lawmakers in Tucson, Arizona, tried banning bump stocks, but the ordinance fell through because of a state law that forbids cities from writing local gun laws, the Tucson News reported.

Instead, according to U.S. News & World Report, the city council passed a non-binding resolution urging state and federal lawmakers to ban bump stocks.

In New Jersey, gun owners aren't allowed to possess bump stocks, but a state Senate bill that was approved Monday by the Budget Committee would make it illegal for anyone to possess a bump stock, according to the bill.

Last month, the assembly voted in favor of an identical bill. It's not clear whether Gov. Chris Christie (R) will sign the measure if it passes.

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