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 Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again MORE's promise to sign an order making the devices illegal.

The bill, from Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' Trump endorses McSally in Arizona Senate race Jeff Flake becoming Harvard fellow MORE (R-Ariz.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichOvernight Energy: Democrats ask if EPA chief misled on vehicle emissions | Dem senators want NBC debate focused on climate change | 2020 hopeful John Delaney unveils T climate plan Democratic senators want NBC primary debate to focus on climate change Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' MORE (D-N.M.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoHouse panel advances bill to create cybersecurity standards for government IT devices Democrats ask Fed to probe Trump's Deutsche Bank ties Dems get behind businesswoman challenging Joni Ernst 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 SessionsAttorney General Barr plays bagpipes at conference Roy Moore trails Republican field in Alabama Trump: Appointing Sessions was my biggest mistake MORE on Tuesday said Justice Department lawyers believe they do have the authority to ban the devices through regulations.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? Senate Finance leaders in talks on deal to limit drug price increases Million-dollar drugs pose new challenge for Congress 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."