Senate

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 Trump’s promise to sign an order making the devices illegal.

The bill, from Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Catherine Cortez Masto (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 Sessions on Tuesday said Justice Department lawyers believe they do have the authority to ban the devices through regulations.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (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.”

Tags Catherine Cortez Masto Chuck Grassley Donald Trump Jeff Flake Jeff Sessions Martin Heinrich
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