Washington doing nothing on guns, so Guam senators jump in
Bill calls for tougher gun control on Guam
The proliferation of mass shootings in the United States has prompted local senators to take a proactive step toward further strengthening gun control laws on Guam, one of the U.S. jurisdictions considered to have the strictest firearm regulations.
Vice Speaker Therese M. Terlaje on Wednesday introduced a bill that seeks to ban bump-fire stocks, a type of firearm accessory that can be attached to a rifle to make it fire more like a machine gun.
Besides imposing a ban on bump-fire stocks, Terlaje’s Bill 265-34 —co-authored by Sen. Telena Nelson — would amend the minimum punishment term for possession and sale of prohibited machine guns, automatic rifles and silencers from three to five years in prison. The bill also proposes to raise bump up minimum fines up from $1,000 to $10,000.
Gun violence is relatively rare on Guam. According to Armed Violence Reduction Monitor, Guam registered zero firearm-related homicide in 2007, 2012 and 2014. There were two cases in 2013. The most recent case on record took place in 2015, involving the death of Sgt. Elbert Piolo, who was shot dead by fellow officer Mark Torre Jr.
Terlaje said Bill 265-34 “is one proactive measure to prevent gun violence in our schools and improve our gun laws to deter gun related violence in our community."
Guam schools are gun-free zone.
“Students and parents have expressed concern for the epidemic of mass shootings taking place in the U.S. mainland and have asked that we do more to prevent these tragedies from happening in our own community,” she added.
Bump-fire stocks have taken the limelight following the October 2017 massacre in Las Vegas, where 58 people were killed and more than 500 were injured. Investigators found such device attached to the gunman’s firearm.
Gun violence is relatively rare on Guam. According to Armed Violence Reduction Monitor, Guam registered zero firearm-related homicide in 2007, 2012 and 2014. There were two cases in 2013.
The Las Vegas shooter, whose gun was later found to have a bump-fire stock attachment, was able to fire around 1,100 rounds in just 10 minutes 110 rounds per minute.
Terlaje noted that possession of machine guns and other automatic weapons are already illegal under Guam law. However, she noted that bump-fire stock firearm attachments and other devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns are not specifically banned.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently submitted a notice of a proposed regulation banning bump stocks by reclassifying the device as a machine gun, following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida earlier this year.
Gun laws on Guam generally regulate the sale, possession, and use of firearms and ammunition in Guam.
In May 2014, Guam’s gun law was amended to change the language for concealed firearms licensing from “may issue” to “shall issue,” meaning, concealed firearm licenses “shall” be issued to an applicant “who meets the various specifications.”
Guam joins 41 other “shall issue” jurisdictions that require the mandatory permit for concealed firearms. Minimum age for permit applicants is 21 and permit is only available to Guam residents.
Public Law 32-50 also reduced the permit’s term from six years to three years.
Attorney General Barrett-Anderson said current firearm laws on Guam were fairly stringent, but could always be improved.