COLUMBUS — Columbus residents who own gun accessories and imitation firearms without an orange plug that are banned under a new city ordinance can surrender them to Columbus police.
The Columbus City Council approved bans on bump stocks and similar accessories at its May 14 meeting as part of a larger package of gun regulations. Those new rules also prohibit brandishing imitation firearms in public, selling them to minors and removing orange plugs meant to distinguish them from real guns.
A spokeswoman for Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein said bump stocks can be sold or disposed of before the law takes effect June 13. After that, possessing one is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days in jail and a $1,500 fine.
Columbus police, though, say they don’t want to see those accessories end up in garbage cans or the landfill.
“We would discourage the disposal in public trash cans and private trash cans just so the contraband wouldn’t fall into the improper hands,” said Sgt. Dean Worthington, Columbus police spokesman.
Instead, people who own “illegal rate-of-fire acceleration firearm accessories” as defined by the city code can surrender them to the Columbus Division of Police property room at 724 E. Woodrow Avenue. Owners of those accessories also can call the police division non-emergency number, 614-645-4545, to ask for a cruiser to pick up the item for surrender, he said.
Worthington said imitation firearms can be surrendered to the property room as well.
That is the same process police use for contraband guns. Once the division collects enough guns, it melts them down, he said.
The new city law defines those illegal accessories as “any trigger crank, a bump-fire device, or any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory, that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic firearm but not convert the semiautomatic firearm into an automatic firearm.” It includes bump stocks, slide fires and accelerators, among others.
Worthington said police likely won’t be actively searching for those items, but someone who illegally possesses one could be charged if it is discovered during a traffic stop or other searches and investigations.
“It’s nearly impossible to randomly stop people,” he said. “We’ll probably come across these things like we do any other piece of contraband.”
Similar bans across the country have not yielded significant results, according to a report by Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
New Jersey banned the items, but the New Jersey State Police have not received any. State police in Massachusetts received only three, according to Stateline.
The U.S. Department of Justice also is weighing a ban on bump stocks, and the largest manufacturer of the devices has said it will stop making them.