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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 TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE's promise to sign an order making the devices illegal.

The bill, from Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden eyeing Cindy McCain for UK ambassador position: report Profiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers McSally concedes Arizona Senate race MORE (R-Ariz.), Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichFormer Sen. Carol Moseley Braun stumps for Interior post: 'A natural fit for me' Five House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet House Democrats push Biden to pick Haaland as next Interior secretary MORE (D-N.M.) and Catherine Cortez MastoCatherine Marie Cortez MastoFavorites emerge as Latino leaders press Biden to appoint 5 Hispanics to Cabinet Senate Democrats reelect Schumer as leader by acclamation  McConnell, Graham warn GOP Senate majority on the line in Georgia 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 SessionsAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 Next attorney general must embrace marijuana law reforms MORE on Tuesday said Justice Department lawyers believe they do have the authority to ban the devices through regulations.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyColorado governor, spouse test positive for COVID-19 McConnell halts in-person Republican lunches amid COVID-19 surge Rep. Rick Allen tests positive for COVID-19 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."