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 TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE's promise to sign an order making the devices illegal.

The bill, from Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials The 5 most vulnerable senators in 2020 Poll: Democrat Mark Kelly leads incumbent McSally in Arizona Senate race MORE (R-Ariz.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichHealth care, spending bills fuel busy year for K Street Schumer introduces bill requiring GDP measure inequality Senators want FERC to protect critical infrastructure from Huawei threats MORE (D-N.M.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoSenate Democrats launch investigation into Trump tax law regulations DSCC endorses combat veteran MJ Hegar in Texas race to unseat Cornyn Senate confirms Trump's 50th circuit judge, despite 'not qualified' rating 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.

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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. 

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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 SessionsICE subpoenas Denver law enforcement: report Bottom Line DOJ inquiry tied to Clinton, touted by Trump winds down with no tangible results: report MORE on Tuesday said Justice Department lawyers believe they do have the authority to ban the devices through regulations.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report Senate begins preparations for Trump trial Big Pharma looks to stem losses after trade deal defeat 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."