On Friday, March 23, 2018, the Justice Department placed a new ban on firearm bump stocks, requiring owners to be surrender them, make them inoperable, or destroy them.
Bump stocks allow semi-automatic weapons to fire as fast as an automatic. The device became the focus of attention after it was discovered Stephan Paddock had attached bump stocks to 14 of the 22 rifles he used in the Las Vegas shooting rampage. The shooting took place in October 2017, during a country music festival. Paddock killed 58 people and injured more than 700.
Attorney General Jeff Session announced the proposed rule. “After the senseless shooting in Las Vegas, this proposed rule is a critical step in our effort to reduce the threat of gun violence that is in keeping with the Constitution and the laws passed by Congress.”
The ban on bump stocks was also on of the measures President Donald Trump said he would support after the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
When the bump stock is attached to a rifle, it allows the recoil action to move the gun back and forth against the trigger finger. After the first pull, the finger does not need to pull the trigger again because the gun will repeatedly bump against the finger, firing itself essentially.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, bump stocks are not classified as machine guns because the guns they are attached to require a trigger pull for each round that is fired. However, the Justice Department says that does not reflect the best definition of a machine gun.
Weapons that are classified as machine guns are grandfathered and can be kept by the owner if there were obtained legally before the Gun Control Act of 1968. Bump stocks did not exist before the law was passed, therefore the proposed rule states that gun owners who possess the devices will be required to surrender the device, make them permanently inoperable, or destroy them.
The proposed rule will be published in the Federal Register on March 26, allowing 90 days for public comment. Then the federal government will make a final ruling.
Written by Jeanette Smith
NBC News: Sessions moves to criminalize possession of bump stocks
Image by WASR Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons License