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Justice Department announces ban on bump stocks


The newly amended regulation defines the device as a 'machine gun'

George Frey/Getty Images

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday that bump stocks, which allowed a semi-automatic weapon to be considered a "machine gun" under federal law, are now banned.

The Justice Department amended regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which ruled that bump-stock-type devices on a semi-automatic weapon allow a shooter to fire the weapon continuously with a single pull of the trigger.

"President Donald Trump is a law and order president, who has signed into law millions of dollars in funding for law enforcement officers in our schools, and under his strong leadership, the Department of Justice has prosecuted more gun criminals than ever before as we target violent criminals," acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said in a news release. "We are faithfully following President Trump's leadership by making clear that bump stocks, which turn semi-automatics into machine guns, are illegal, and we will continue to take illegal guns off of our streets."

Bump stocks were thrust into the spotlight following the Las Vegas massacre in October last year. The gunman, who killed 58 people, used the rapid-fire devices to spray bullets into a crowded outdoor concert from the window of his hotel room.

Whitaker signed the final rule Tuesday, and it is expected to be made official by Friday. The rule will go into effect 90 days after the regulation is published.

What's the story?

On Feb. 20, President Donald Trump instructed the U.S. attorney general "to dedicate all available resources to… propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns," according to the release.

The Justice Department "reviewed more than 186,000 public comments and made the decision to make clear that the term 'machine gun' as used in the National Firearms Act (NFA), as amended, and Gun Control Act (GCA), as amended, includes all bump-stock-type devices that harness recoil energy to facilitate the continuous operation of a semiautomatic firearm after a single pull of the trigger," the release said.

At a news conference in October, Trump said he told the National Rifle Association that "bump stocks are gone."

"And over the next couple of weeks, I'll be able to write it up," he said, according to the Washington Examiner.

The National Rifle Association has not yet issued a response to the ruling, but the Trump administration is reportedly preparing for a lawsuit. It's not clear whether or not the ban would survive a court battle.

What if you own a bump stock?

Anyone who possesses a bump stock will be required to destroy it or turn the device over to authorities within 90 days.

No compensation will be provided in return for the bump stock.

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