Fourteen months after a shooter using semiautomatic rifles fitted with a “bump stock” device to make them fire faster killed 58 people at a Las Vegas music festival, the Trump administration is reportedly preparing a ban on the devices.
The proposed final rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) would put bump stocks under the machine-gun prohibition, making them illegal. The finalized ban will be announced in coming days or weeks, according to officials, as first reported on Wednesday by CNN with additional details from the New York Times.
“Current possessors of these devices would be required to surrender them, destroy them, or otherwise render them permanently inoperable,” the proposal reads.
Days after the February school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in which a bump stock was not used by the gunman, President Trump said he had ordered the Justice Department to prepare a ban on the devices. In October, Trump said at a news conference that his administration was “at the final stages” of the process. “We’re knocking out bump stocks. I’ve told the NRA. I’ve told them: Bump stocks are gone,” he said.
The Las Vegas shooting in October 2017 turned national scrutiny on bump stocks, which are a type of conversion device that allows a semiautomatic weapon to fire like an automatic one. The shooter had at least 12 rifles legally modified with bump stocks; it was estimated that he fired about 90 shots in 10 seconds.
Gun-control advocates had been frustrated with a lack of progress on the ban, which they had urged Congress to pass in order to move more quickly and avoid court challenges to the rule, as well as the president’s unwillingness to take any other actions on the issue.
“Banning bump stocks is a positive step, but it is not enough,” said David Chipman, a retired ATF special agent and a senior policy adviser for Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence. "It won’t stop these mass shootings, which is why Congress must act swiftly to pass comprehensive solutions to prevent gun violence.”
After the Las Vegas massacre, National Rifle Association leaders said they believed bump stocks “should be subject to additional regulations,” but they opposed legislation to ban them and a spokesperson said the organization opposes a ban.
In January, New Jersey enacted a bump stock ban, becoming the second state to do so after Massachusetts. Since then, bans have been passed in six other states and introduced in at least 19 other state legislatures, according to Giffords. A bill in the Pennsylvania legislature was approved by the House Judiciary Committee over the summer but did not advance in either chamber.