ALBANY - Semi-automatic rifles modified with a bump stock -- such as those used by Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock -- are illegal in New York, according to the state's top law-enforcement officials.
New York law does not explicitly outlaw bump stocks, the modification that attaches to the back of a gun and allows semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly, allowing a shooter to quickly empty a magazine.
But both State Police and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office pointed Thursday to a section of state Penal Law that prohibits machine guns or "any other firearm or weapon simulating a machine gun."
Affixing a bump stock to a semi-automatic rifle would simulate a machine gun, making it a class D felony, both said.
"Possession of any semi-automatic weapon modified for the purpose of rapidly firing rounds, without the need for a manual finger pull to discharge each round, is illegal under Penal Law 265.02(2) because such a weapon simulates the function and effect of a machine-gun," State Police spokesman William Duffy said in a statement.
Schneiderman's office went a step further, making the case that a semi-automatic rifle with a bump stock would actually be considered a machine gun under state law, which defines it as a weapon that allows bullets to be shot rapidly with "one continuous pull of the trigger."
Bump stocks rest against the shooter's shoulder, using a rifle's recoil to rock back and forth and pull the trigger, allowing for the rapid firing of ammunition.
Paddock had bump stocks on a dozen firearms found in the Las Vegas hotel room where he fired into a music festival crowd below, according to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The shooting, the deadliest in modern U.S. history, killed at least 58.
It's unclear if anyone in New York has ever been charged for possessing a gun with a bump stock attached.
State Police were not aware of anyone being arrested for having such a device, Duffy said.
While State Police and Schneiderman's interpretation of the law found it to be illegal to possess a firearm with a bump stock attached, possessing an unattached bump stock isn't illegal.
Some state lawmakers are considering ways to make the law more clear.
A bill introduced Thursday by Sens. Brad Hoylman, D-Manhattan, and John Brooks, D-Nassau County, would make it a crime to possess or sell any accessory that would "accelerate the firing rate of a semiautomatic weapon."
That would close the loophole allowing for the possession of a bump stock if it isn't attached to a weapon, they contended.
"While New York has outlawed the use of these items, a loophole in our laws allows individuals to continue to possess, sell, or transport them within our state – endangering the lives of our residents," Hoylman said.
Tom King, president of the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association, declined to comment.
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