Bump Stock Ban, Marijuana Regulation Uncertainty: The Week Ahead On Beacon Hill

Oct 9, 2017

After the mass shooting in Las Vegas last week, some lawmakers began to push to restrict a modification device for rifles called a bump stock. It allows semi-automatic weapons to act like automatic ones. 

A number of bump stocks were found in the hotel room with the shooter who killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more.

In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker said he'd sign a bill banning bump stocks, and even gun rights advocates support some new restrictions.

Matt Murphy of the State House News Service talked to NEPR about how soon a ban could be enacted.

Matt Murphy, State House News: In just a few days after the shootings in Las Vegas, this issue seemed to pick up steam really quickly here at the State House, as well as nationally. We did hear — Rep. Seth Moulton from Salem made a push and filed some legislation in Congress. And you heard Speaker Paul Ryan talk about being willing to look at the federal level.

But more immediately in Massachusetts, you had State Rep. David Linsky — a Natick Democrat who’s been active in the gun control issues for years now — quickly file legislation to ban these devices in Mass. And the governor said he would sign a bill, and both the Speaker [of the House Bob DeLeo] and the Senate President [Stan Rosenberg] indicated they would like to fast-track this legislation.

So whether or not it's a clean and simple bill that just addresses bump stocks, or if some other gun issues get attached to this legislation, we don't quite know yet. But it does seem [there is] a growing momentum behind at least acting on that piece.

Carrie Healy, NEPR: Last week, the Cannabis Control Commission had a listening session in Holyoke, and they are moving full speed ahead to get regulations in place soon. And one of the most basic needs of that group is to keep the commission funded — they need a budget. Where are they with funding at this point?

They do need a budget. And this was always envisioned, you know, that the commission knows that it needs to kind of come up with a number that it can present to justify to the legislature. The legislature is anticipating this. When they crafted the bill that passed -- a sort of rewriting the ballot law -- they gave the commission a few million dollars to kind of get started: to get set up, hire the commissioners, start hiring staff. They’re in the process of hiring an executive director right now.

And knowing that once the five-member panel was in place, they could come back to the legislature with a request for full budget. So they're anticipating having to fund this agency. It’s just a matter of giving the legislature a number, and one that they're comfortable with.

Last week, the Cannabis World Conference was held in Boston. That gathered entrepreneurs, investors, lawyers — all types. Were there any takeaways from that gathering — words of wisdom — that the Cannabis Control Commission should be heeding?

Yeah, well, I think there's a lot of uncertainty. I think you saw — you know, there's a lot of interest and a lot of excitement about this industry in Massachusetts, and people looking to, you know, make a buck, for lack of a better phrase, and get in on the ground floor on this.

But the timeline for issuing these regulations and getting these shops open by next July — people raise some serious questions about this, drawing off their experience in this industry in other states, including Colorado, who took much longer, after voters approved it, to get their whole operation set up. Because of the time the legislature took to rewrite the law, they’re in a much smaller compressed window. So there is some question about whether or not it's doable. And we know that chairman [Steven] Hoffman, who's leading this effort, says that his goal is to avoid further delays. But I think that remains a question.

Heather Brandon contributed to this report.