The Trump administration was right to ban “bump stocks.”
Now Congress should confirm the sensible step by passing legislation to ban the devices, which can transform semi-automatic rifles into automatic rifles.
A bump stock was used by the killer in the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting that slaughtered 58 people and wounded hundreds of others attending a country music concert.
That tragedy was a “9/11” of mass shootings, said David Chipman, a senior policy adviser at Giffords, a gun-safety organization co-founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who was shot in 2011 while meeting with constituents.
Chipman, who served 25 years as an agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said a concern with the administration ban is that “in a regulatory approach it would be subject to loopholes that the industry could work around, and it would be the subject of lawsuits.”
In fact, the Gun Owners of America filed suit against the regulation, which its executive director said in a statement “clearly violates federal law, as bump stocks do not qualify as machine guns under the federal statute.”
The National Rifle Association, long a stalwart ally of President Donald Trump, has not filed suit — yet. But it expressed its disapproval in a statement that read in part, “We are disappointed that this final rule fails to address the thousands of law-abiding Americans who relied on prior ATF determinations when lawfully acquiring these devices.”
The Department of Justice’s final rule referred to by the NRA states that “these devices convert an otherwise semiautomatic firearm into a machine gun by functioning as a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism that harnesses recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm in a manner that allows the trigger to reset and continue firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter.”
The United States has a self-regulating mechanism of its own: common-sense laws passed by common-sense lawmakers. Which should mean every member of Congress should agree with the president that bump stocks and similar devices should be banned.
That this is even a debate is testament to the madness of modern-day America, in which zealots defend devices designed to get by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 that ban machine guns. Bump stocks have no practical application in hunting or any other reasonable firearm use. They’re designed to get around a law and, in the Las Vegas case, to more efficiently massacre innocents.
For too long a reasonable debate on common-sense gun legislation has been drowned out by groups like the Gun Owners of America and the NRA. And for too long some lawmakers — Republicans mostly, but some Democrats, too — have ignored the will of the American people in order to defend gun extremism (and collect checks for the campaign coffers).
An October Gallup poll attested to Americans’ desire to act on gun laws. The poll reports that 61 percent “favor stricter laws on the sale of firearms,” which was even higher than the 60 percent who said so after the Las Vegas shootings. The number peaked at 67 percent after the Parkland, Fla., school shootings in February that killed 15 students and two staff members, which the Associated Press named the top news story of 2018.
This level of support is the highest percentage in two or more decades, Gallup reported. So clearly, there can be congressional support for banning bump stocks, which even Trump, an NRA advocate, supports. Congress should codify the ban soon after it convenes in January.