Mississippi lawmakers moving to crack down on machine gun conversion devices

Legislation advancing in Mississippi — where lawmakers are typically loathe to introduce new gun restrictions — would ban most devices used to convert semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic ones.

Under a bill passed by the state Senate on Wednesday, local prosecutors could charge people who possess and manufacture modified machine guns. Conversion devices, which are made with 3D printers and can be bought on the internet, make it so that a legal semi-automatic gun can fire multiple rounds at a rapid clip. The proliferation of these devices has led to deadly crimes, Republican Sen. Scott DeLano said.

“These are very deadly devices. They are killing machines,” DeLano said. “This is not something a law-abiding citizen would need to have.”

Lawmakers were moved to introduce the bill after a Mississippi sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed during a traffic stop by a suspect who had a modified machine gun. George County Deputy Jeremy Malone died after he stopped a vehicle U.S. 98 in early January.

The National Rifle Association, which often lobbies against gun control provisions, helped write portions of the bill because it is “cognizant to this threat to our law enforcement community,” DeLano said.

While federal law restricts conversion devices, Mississippi does not have a state law banning them. As a result, police can only confiscate the devices. Local prosecutors cannot charge people for modifying machine guns. Instead they must rely on federal prosecutors, who have been overwhelmed with the number of cases in Mississippi, DeLano said.

People can still obtain a federal license to purchase some modified guns.

The bill now heads to the House, which has already passed a similar proposal the Senate could consider. Both bills are named after Malone, the slain officer.


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

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