Senators introduce bill to ban bump stocks

Senators introduce bill to ban bump stocks
© Greg Nash

Senators have introduced a bill to ban bump stocks, arguing legislation is still needed despite President TrumpDonald John TrumpConservatives express concern over House GOP immigration bill Poll: McSally holds 14-point lead in Arizona GOP Senate primary Trump defends Nielsen amid criticism over family separations MORE's promise to sign an order making the devices illegal.

The bill, from Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakePoll: McSally holds 14-point lead in Arizona GOP Senate primary GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border McCain, Coons: Trump should withdraw controversial refugee nominee MORE (R-Ariz.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichOvernight Energy: DNC to reject fossil fuel donations | Regulators see no security risk in coal plant closures | Senate committee rejects Trump EPA, Interior budgets Energy commission sees no national security risk from coal plant closures The Hill's Morning Report — Trump: `A very great moment in the history of the world’ MORE (D-N.M.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoHarry Reid undergoes surgery for pancreatic cancer Overnight Energy: House votes to advance Yucca Mountain nuke waste plan | EPA won't reverse danger findings for paint stripping chemical | County sues oil companies over climate How endangered GOP Sen. Dean Heller is seeking to hang on MORE (D-Nev.), would ban the sale of bump stocks and "other mechanisms" that can be used to simulate automatic gunfire with a semi-automatic weapon.

"I am encouraged by the president’s directive to the Department of Justice to regulate these devices, but a temporary regulatory fix is no substitute for permanent law," Flake said in a statement.

Cortez Masto added that "Congress must act immediately and ban bump stocks as we work to help save lives and prevent senseless gun violence.”

The development comes after Trump told lawmakers on Wednesday to ignore the issue.

"I’m going to write that out, because we can do that with an executive order … we’ll have that done pretty quickly, they’re working on it right now, the lawyers," Trump said during a meeting at the White House.

Bump stocks gained attention last year when the device was reportedly used in the Las Vegas shooting that left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured.

They were not used in the recent mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) put out a notice of proposed rulemaking in December announcing its plan to interpret the statutory definition of machine gun in the National Firearms Act of 1934 and Gun Control Act of 1968 to clarify whether bump stocks fall within that definition.

But it has been unclear whether the ATF actually has the authority to ban bump stocks. Some have argued that legislation would be required to outlaw the devices.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMadeleine Albright slams Trump over immigration New Hampshire GOP gov: I won’t send National Guard troops to ‘separate families’ Overnight Defense: States pull National Guard troops over family separation policy | Senators question pick for Afghan commander | US leaves UN Human Rights Council MORE on Tuesday said Justice Department lawyers believe they do have the authority to ban the devices through regulations.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOn The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Markets roiled by Trump's new tariff threat | Trump lashes out at Canada over trade | Warren looks to block Trump pick for consumer agency The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Defiant Trump meets with House GOP amid border blowback Republican senator calls for face-to-face with EPA’s Pruitt MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said separately on Thursday that if ATF's effort to ban bump stocks through regulation "proves unsuccessful," then he is "also willing to consider a legislative ban."