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Feinstein: Trump must urge GOP to pass bump stock ban

Feinstein: Trump must urge GOP to pass bump stock ban
© Camille Fine

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSen. Walter Huddleston was a reminder that immigration used to be a bipartisan issue GOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks Feinstein would 'absolutely' reopen Kavanaugh investigation if Dems win Senate MORE (D-Calif.) is doubling down on legislation banning bump stocks after President TrumpDonald John TrumpCorker: US must determine responsibility in Saudi journalist's death Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada Dem senator calls for US action after 'preposterous' Saudi explanation MORE urged the Justice Department (DOJ) to propose regulations.

“The ATF currently lacks authority under the law to ban bump stocks. The agency made this clear in a 2013 letter to Congress, writing that ‘stocks of this type are not subject to the provisions of federal firearms statutes,' " Feinstein said in a statement, referring to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Trump said at a White House event on Tuesday that he had directed the DOJ to propose regulations and he expects "that these critical regulations will be finalized ... very soon.” 

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Though fully automatic weapons are banned, bump stocks — a device that jumped into the spotlight after a gun man in Las Vegas used a bump stock to perpetrate the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history — are legal. The attachment can be used to simulate automatic gunfire with a semi-automatic weapon.

The ATF wrote in a mid-2010 letter to two companies that a bump stock "is a firearm part and is not regulated as a firearm under the Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.”

Feinstein added on Tuesday that the Trump administration moving forward with regulations, despite previous assertions that they didn't legally have the authority, would likely spark a court battle.

"If ATF tries to ban these devices after admitting repeatedly that it lacks the authority to do so, that process could be tied up in court for years, and that would mean bump stocks would continue to be sold. Legislation is the only answer," she said.

She added that "if you want these devices off the street, call congressional Republicans and tell them to stop blocking our bill.”

A group of GOP senators urged the ATF last year to review the Obama-era decision and issue "your own interpretation" on whether or not they had the ability to regulate bump stocks.

A bipartisan group of senators also introduced legislation last year that would ban bump stocks, but that legislation has stalled.