Bump stocks banned

Reuters | 12/21/2018, 6 a.m.
The Trump administration on Tuesday banned the high-power gun attachments of the type used in last year’s Las Vegas shooting ...


The Trump administration on Tuesday banned the high-power gun attachments of the type used in last year’s Las Vegas shooting massacre of 58 people, giving the owners of “bump stocks” 90 days to turn in or destroy the devices and blocking owners from being able to register them.

President Trump’s Republican Party typically supports gun ownership, and its members have fiercely fought off perceived threats to the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment guaranteeing people the right to bear arms.

His administration, though, is sidestepping any potential debate in Congress in issuing a final rule on Tuesday that adds bump stocks to a definition of machine guns written 80 years ago during the heyday of gangsters’ use of “tommy guns.”

The attachments use a gun’s recoil to bump its trigger, enabling a semiautomatic weapon to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, which can transform the firearm into a machine gun.

The U.S. Justice Department’s regulation follows the lead of many states and retailers that imposed stricter limits on sales of guns and accessories after a deadly shooting in February at Parkland High School in Florida.

Gun Owners of America said Tuesday that it was going to court to fight the new rule and would seek an injunction. The group said the department was attempting to rewrite laws, the regulation would lead to bans on other weapons, and bump stocks do not qualify as machine guns.

On an earlier call with reporters, senior Justice Department officials said they were ready for any possible lawsuit and confident in the review of case law they conducted while writing and revising the regulation. The department received nearly 190,000 comments on its proposal for the regulation.

The websites for the most well-known bump stock manufacturers, Bumpfire System and Slide Fire, displayed notifications on Tuesday that they had already ceased direct sales of the devices.

While bump stocks are not widespread, they are still plentiful in the market, with high sales over the internet and in big-box stores, the officials said on the call.

Walmart stopped selling assault firearms and accessories in 2015. After the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the retailer raised the minimum age for buying guns at its stores. Other retailers, including Kroger Co., also have raised the minimum buying age.

Proponents of the ban said the question now becomes how to deal with as many as 520,000 of the devices that have been sold nationwide since 2010. Compliance with the law will be difficult to measure, they said, because, with no serial numbers of federal registry of the devices, finding them could be difficult.

The Justice Department acknowledged that it is seeking voluntary surrender or destruction of bump stocks. Officials also said that anyone in possession of a bump stock after the 90-day deadline could face stiff penalties under federal gun laws.