ATF emails reveal pressure to address bump stocks hours after Vegas shooting
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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) was beset with emails over bump stocks in the immediate aftermath of last year's Las Vegas massacre, according to new internal emails obtained and reviewed by USA Today.

The news outlet reported that, within a day of the shooting, ATF leadership was flooded with internal and external messages asking whether the bureau had approved the supplementary devices used by Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock, and whether it planned to ban them.

“Are these ‘ATF approved’ as advertised?” ATF Director Tom Brandon asked technology branch chief Earl Griffith the day after the shooting, according to emails obtained by USA Today.


Emails showed that public affairs staff encouraged bureau employees to avoid referring to bump stocks as ATF "approved," but rather to explain that the ATF has the power to "classify" or "evaluate" the devices, which allow weapons to fire at a faster rate, mimicking machine guns.

Other emails showed officials discussing an uptick in demand for bump stocks, as well as criticism from outside observers over the ATF's perceived inaction on the devices.

ATF spokesman Brad Engelbert told USA Today that the emails reflect individual personal opinions, and are not the official position of the ATF.

A call to ban bump stocks found broad support after the Las Vegas shooting, which left 58 people dead and hundreds more wounded. The National Rifle Association (NRA) joined advocates for stricter gun laws in calling for the devices to be banned or restricted.

However, the NRA later opposed legislation that would have banned the use of bump stocks.

President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic MORE in March called on the Department of Justice to issue a new rule banning bump stocks, but the department has yet to pass a formal rule.

A number of states — including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — have taken independent action to ban bump stocks.