Trump administration will ban bump stocks, device used in Las Vegas shooting

Saul Bowman
December 20, 2018

Some Democrats have remained skeptical about banning bump stocks via federal regulation, instead calling on lawmakers to pass new laws that ban not only the devices, but others that can increase the fire rate of semi-automatic weapons.

Instead, a regulation was signed by Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general, on Tuesday.

As for how many gun owners will be affected by the new rule, officials explained it was hard to provide precise figures, saying bump stocks "aren't widespread, but they are not uncommon".

Bump stocks gained national attention past year after a gunman in Las Vegas rigged his weapons with the devices to fire on concertgoers, killing 58 people.

It will go into effect 90 days after being formally published, which is expected to happen on Friday, the Justice Department official said.

The amended rule was met nearly immediately with resistance from gun rights advocates, including Gun Owners of America, which said it would file a lawsuit against the Justice Department and ATF to protect gun owners from "unconstitutional regulations".

The move was prompted by public outcry over a number of recent mass shootings, including the Las Vegas shooting, where the gunman attached bump stocks to his rifle.

On Tuesday, a White House official said there's believed to be tens of thousands of bump stock devices in circulation, but because there's no registry or tracking for firearms accessories, there's no way to find out exactly how many are out there and who owns them.

The Trump administration moved Tuesday to officially ban bump stocks
The Trump administration moved Tuesday to officially ban bump stocks

President Trump signaled his intention earlier this year when he tweeted: "We will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns".

Bump stocks allow a "shooter of a semi-automatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger", the department said in a statement.

The Trump administration's action has effectively reversed a 2012 decision by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that weapons with bump stocks were not the same as machine guns.

Trump ordered the Justice Department to ban the devices in March. It is estimated that up to 520,000 bump stocks have been bought by gun owners since 2010. ATF received about 186,000 comments on the proposal. Bump stocks became a focal point in the USA gun control debate after the massacre.

Erich Pratt, executive director, said: "These regulations implicate Second Amendment rights, and courts should be highly suspect when an agency changes its "interpretation" of a statute in order to impair the exercise of enumerated constitutional rights".

The National Rifle Association called on the Justice Department to provide amnesty for gun owners who already have bump stocks. Paddock fatally shot himself after the shooting.

The device makes it easier to fire a semi-automatic weapon.

The largest manufacturer of bump stocks, Slide Fire Solutions, announced in April that it was going to stop taking orders and shutting down its website.

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