President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he has directed the Department of Justice to propose regulations for a ban of bump stocks, a little-known firearms accessory that became ultra-controversial since its use in a mass shooting in Las Vegas last year.
After the shooting on the Las Vegas strip this past October that left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured, investigators discovered a dozen rifles modified with bump stocks in the alleged gunman’s hotel room.
Subsequently, according to this story on guns.com, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) published an advanced notice of proposed rule making in the Federal Registry in December, which sought public comments from manufacturers, retailers, and consumers about the devices. The public comment period closed on Jan. 25.
Trump said, as a result of the ATF process, he signed a memorandum this week directing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to craft regulations “to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns,” according to this guns.com story.
“The key in all of these efforts … is that we cannot merely take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,” Trump said Tuesday in the wake of the recent Parkland, Florida school shooting. “We must actually make a difference. We must move past clichés and tired debates and focus on evidence-based solutions and security measures that actually work and that make it easier for men and women of law enforcement to protect our children.”
It’s worth noting that the Parkland school shooting that occurred on Valentine’s Day did not involve bump stocks or machine guns.
The story says this is the Trump administration’s second reversal in lax gun police stances since the Parkland shooting, in which 17 were killed and more than a dozen wounded. Trump met with Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) on Friday about Cornyn’s bill to strengthen federal background checks, the story says.
“When he returned, Trump reportedly expressed possible support for the bipartisan-backed Fix NICS Act,” which seeks to enhance and revamp the troubled federal background check system that has been in place for years.
Americans on both sides of the debate are not pleased with Trump’s announcement, the story says, with gun rights proponents worried that such a vague ban on accessories could easily be applied to triggers, magazines, or semi-auto firearms in general.
“If President Donald Trump’s goal is to ban bump stocks, then that is a gross infringement of Second Amendment rights,” said Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America. “GOA has long warned that such a ban can easily be applied to triggers, magazines, or semi-automatic firearms.”
On the other side, gun control advocates want more. John Feinblatt, executive director of the Bloomberg-funded Everytown For Gun Safety said the proposed ban is “a good initial step.”
“But the devil is in the details, and it remains to be seen whether the Department of Justice will actually prohibit bump stocks, or if the White House is playing games,” he said in a post on the group’s website. “Regardless, this action alone is not enough.”
“A ban on bump stocks would ignore the ATF’s previous public comment period that garnered over a hundred thousand comments, which were overwhelmingly anti-regulation,” Pratt said. “Banning bump stocks will not stop criminals from getting guns, but it can be used by gun controllers to ban triggers, magazines, and semi-automatic firearms.”
According to the story, the Firearms Policy Coalition described Trump’s decision as “absolutely lawless” in a statement that soon followed Trump’s announcement, promising a legal battle over any proposed ban.
“If the Republican-held House and Senate, and President Donald Trump, choose to act on new gun control over the pro-gun rights legislation that the American people were promised in 2016, they will have shown the voters that neither major political party cares about their rights or the Constitution — and that the only real, civil option left is a new constitutional amendment,” the organization said in a statement.
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 ATF evaluation letter regarding bump stocks dated June 7, 2010 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.”
AR Legal Age for Purchase Increase
According to this story from outdoorhub.com Trump has apparently indicated he favors legislation that would make the minimum age of purchase for an AR-platform rifle 21.
Trump also tweeted that he is in favor of strengthening background checks, though he didn’t get into specifics:
Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 21, 2018