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 TrumpJoint Chiefs chairman denies report that US is planning to keep 1K troops in Syria Kansas Department of Transportation calls Trump 'delusional communist' on Twitter Trump has privately voiced skepticism about driverless cars: report MORE's promise to sign an order making the devices illegal.

The bill, from Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcSally to back Trump on emergency declaration Flake: Biden 'strikes fear in a lot of Republicans' Press: Which way do Dems go in 2020? MORE (R-Ariz.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichDems introduce bill requiring disclosure of guest logs from White House, Trump properties Senate Dems seek to turn tables on GOP in climate change fight Senate Dems introduce bill demanding report on Khashoggi killing MORE (D-N.M.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Manafort sentenced to total of 7.5 years in prison Dems put spotlight on diversity in tech Hillicon Valley: Google workers join lawmakers against forced arbitration | Cohen to return before House Intel next week | Huawei pleads not guilty to theft allegations | New bill would ban ad targeting by race 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 SessionsO'Rourke on impeachment: 2020 vote may be best way to 'resolve' Trump House Judiciary Dem, Republican clash over details of Whitaker testimony DeVos moves to allow religious groups to provide federally funded services to private schools MORE on Tuesday said Justice Department lawyers believe they do have the authority to ban the devices through regulations.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyKlobuchar: ObamaCare a 'missed opportunity' to address drug costs Just one in five expect savings from Trump tax law: poll Divisions emerge over House drug price bills 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."