The White House announced that President Trump ordered Attorney General Jeff Sessions to investigate the possibility of banning “bump stocks,” which are accessories used to increase the speed at which the trigger can be pressed on a rifle.
Here’s what the statement read:
“After the deadly mass murder in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 1, 2017,” it read, “I asked my Administration to fully review how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives regulates bump fire stocks and similar devices.”
“Although the Obama Administration repeatedly concluded that particular bump stock type devices were lawful to purchase and possess,” the statement continued, “I sought further clarification of the law restricting fully automatic machine guns.”
“Accordingly, following established legal protocols,” it continued, “the Department of Justice started the process of promulgating a Federal regulation interpreting the definition of “machinegun” under Federal law to clarify whether certain bump stock type devices should be illegal. The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the “Federal Register” on December 26, 2017. Public comment concluded on January 25, 2018, with the Department of Justice receiving over 100,000 comments.”
“Today, I am directing the Department of Justice to dedicate all available resources to complete the review of the comments received,” Trump wrote, “and, as expeditiously as possible, to propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal pons into machine guns.”
“Although I desire swift and decisive action,” he added, “I remain committed to the rule of law and to the procedures the law prescribes. Doing this the right way will ensure that the resulting regulation is workable and effective and leaves no loopholes for criminals to exploit. I would ask that you keep me regularly apprised of your progress.”
Obstacles to a ban
The Department Justice announced that they were studying the issue of a ban in December. “Possessing firearm parts that are used exclusively in converting a weapon into a machine gun is illegal, except for certain limited circumstances,” Sessions said. “Today we begin the process of determining whether or not bump stocks are covered by this prohibition.”
Even the NRA announced that they would be in favor of regulation on bump stocks.
But it’s unclear whether the ATF has the legal authority to ban the accessory on its own. A bump stock ban would be on much firmer ground if Congress passed legislation for it, but that seems unlikely given how many lawmakers are averse to voting for further gun regulation.
Trump’s memo ostensibly asks the Department of Justice to ignore their own previously stated opinion that they cannot ban bump stocks, and follow through anyhow.
Here’s a Fox News video about this issue: