Major Retailers Pull Bump Stocks as Lawmakers Prep Bans
The firearm accessories have become the focus of national attention after their apparent use in the recent Las Vegas mass shooting.
In the wake of the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, a firearm accessory known as a bump stock, or bump-fire stock, has been thrust into the limelight, and is now the focus of multiple pieces of proposed legislation at the state and federal levels.
Additionally, the NRA stated today that the legal status of the devices should be reviewed and two huge retailers have apparently pulled the products from their shelves.
At the state level, in New Jersey (a state with some of the tightest gun restrictions in the country), three state senators have said they plan to introduce legislation to ban the sale and possession of bump stocks in the state by the end of the week.
State Sens. Ray Lesniak, Richard Codey, and Loretta Weinberg (all Democrats), announced the legislation Wednesday afternoon, according to this story from the burlingtoncountytimes.com.
The bill would make the sale or possession of the devices a third-degree criminal offense, which could carry a prison sentence of between three and five years. Those already in possession of the accessories would have 90 days to surrender them to police, and retailers would have 30 days to surrender their stock.
N.J. Governor Chris Christie, whose term ends this year, said Monday night that he isn’t convinced stricter gun laws would stop mass shootings, the story says.
But a state-level ban on the devices may not matter for long. This story from TheHill.com says a Democratic proposal to ban bump stocks at the federal level is gaining unexpected support from Republicans in both chambers.
The story says, this is the “first time gun-control legislation has picked up significant Republican support since immediately after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in late 2012.”
Rep. Bill Flores (Texas) was the first Republican in Congress to publicly endorse a national ban on the devices, the story says.
“I think they should be banned. There’s no reason for a typical gun owner to own anything that converts a semi-automatic to something that behaves like an automatic,” Flores told TheHill.com, which pointed out that he is a gun owner.
Flores was joined by Reps. Charlie Dent (PA), Ryan Costello (PA), Leonard Lance (NJ), and Pete King (NY) in supporting a proposed ban.
“I’m ready to say that they should not be in public use. I think they are a problem. I support a ban on bump stocks. I don’t see any purpose for them,” Dent told The Hill. “The law is clear to me that automatic weapons are banned in this country, as they should be.”
The device, marketed by a small start-up, activates a rifle’s trigger using battery power, mimicking full-auto fire.
The story also says the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE), which would have loosened restrictions on gun rights, including suppressor sales, has been pulled from the House schedule, according to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Florida) is planning to introduce the federal ban in the House today, CNN reports.
This afternoon, CNN also reported that the National Rifle Association (NRA) announced that it supports a review of bump-fire stocks to see if they are in accordance with federal law.
“The National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law,” the NRA said in a statement. “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”
Meanwhile, some major retailers are getting ahead of the proposed legislation and voluntarily pulling bump stocks from their inventory. This story from guns.com says Cabela’s and Walmart both removed bump stocks from their online catalogs as of Wednesday.
Links for the products go to dead-ends on both websites, though it isn’t clear if the products are still in stock at the brick-and-mortar stores. Slide Fire Solutions, the Texas company that is a major manufacturer and originator of the stocks, posted a message on its website saying orders have been “temporarily suspended.”
For retailers that are still carrying them, bump stock sales are spiking, and in some cases, they are selling out completely, according to this story from newsweek.com as people snap up the stocks in anticipation of a ban.
It was confirmed Tuesday by federal authorities that 12 of the 23 guns recovered from the Las Vegas shooter’s hotel room were fitted with bump stocks. The shooting claimed 59 lives and caused 489 injuries.
Bump stocks mimic a range trick called a bump fire, in which a shooter fires a semi-automatic long gun from the hip, while keeping their trigger finger and shooting arm rigid and moving the gun forward with their support hand. The gun’s recoil after the first shot is then allowed to move it back and forth, repeatedly activating the trigger against the shooter’s finger, mimicking full-auto fire. Often, someone performing a bump fire will use their thumb to actuate the trigger while hooking it through a belt loop on their pants to help keep it still. The stocks in question mimics that back-and-forth motion, while allowing the shooter to shoulder the firearm.
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) evaluation letter regarding bump stocks, addressed to Slide Fire, is dated June 7, 2010 and states:
“The stock has no automatically functioning mechanical parts or springs and performs no automatic mechanical function when installed…Accordingly, we find that the “bump-stock” is a firearm part and is not regulated as a firearm under Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.”