ATF will regulate bump stocks as machine guns under new rule; Owners had 90 days to destroy or surrender their bump stocks
Washington, DC — A federal ban on bump stocks—devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to function like machine guns—will take effect today, March 26, 2019. In December, the Justice Department issued the rule, which clarified that existing prohibitions against fully automatic weapons also cover bump stocks. Under the new rule, owners of bump stocks were given 90 days to turn in or destroy them. That period ends on Tuesday, March 26.
Statement from David Chipman, Giffords Senior Policy Advisor and former ATF Special Agent of 25 years:
“Banning bump stocks by regulation is a positive step, but it is not enough. It’s been well over a year since the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history—a massacre that killed 58 people and wounded hundreds more—was perpetrated with bump stocks. After their easy availability and lethality were known, Congress still failed to take any action and instead passed the buck to the ATF, complicating the situation and opening the door to prolonged judicial disputes. It’s horrifying to think that for over 500 days, bump stocks have remained available for purchase—and in danger of falling into the wrong hands. In that same time, our country’s gun violence crisis has continued unabated, while Republican leadership and the Trump Administration have done nothing to stop it. Banning bump stocks alone won’t stop mass shootings or address the fact that over 100 Americans die every day from guns, which is why Congress must act swiftly to pass comprehensive solutions to prevent gun violence.”
Legal and Lethal: 9 Products that Could Be the Next Bump Stock
One year after a gunman in Las Vegas armed with assault weapons and bump stocks caused the deadliest mass shooting in American history, Giffords released a new report detailing how extremely lethal firearms and devices like bump stocks are being sold in such a way that they skirt federal laws designed to keep us safe. The report, Legal & Lethal: 9 Products That Could Be the Next Bump Stock, highlights numerous examples of legal firearms and accessories currently on the market due to legislative and technological loopholes exploited by the gun lobby. Since the Las Vegas massacre, federal leaders have expressed their outrage, but to this day many lethal firearms and devices, like bump stocks, remain legal and continue to be marketed by gun manufacturers.
Background on Bump Stock Ban
Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker signed a regulation outlawing the devices after Justice Department officials reviewed prior rulings and clarified the devices were illegal machine guns. Once the regulation was formally published, bump stock owners were given 90 days to either destroy or surrender their devices. That period ends on March 26, 2019.
The Justice Department’s ban comes after nearly a yearlong process that followed the shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada where a gunman opened fire from a hotel room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay hotel into the 22,000 person crowd at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500 on October 1, 2017.
The Las Vegas gunman fired more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition in 11 minutes, using semi-automatic rifles modified with dangerous firearm accessories designed to dramatically accelerate the rate of gunfire, commonly known as “bump stocks.”
On December 26, 2017, ATF took the first step toward reclassifying bump stocks by issuing an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to request information on the market for bump stocks, with a suggestion that it may one day define “machinegun” to include bump stocks. This was in response to Congressional failure to move forward with votes on multiple bills that were introduced after the tragedy in Las Vegas.
After the first round of feedback to ATF, Giffords organized a way for supporters to take action and demand regulation of these dangerous devices. These efforts helped change the course of the comment period. The results reversed after the second round of feedback, with 73 percent of comments to ATF favoring regulation.
Bump stocks are intended to circumvent the federal restrictions on possession of fully automatic firearms by allowing an individual to modify a semi-automatic rifle in such a manner that it operates with a similar rate of fire as a fully automatic rifle, posing a substantial risk to public safety.
Eight in ten Americans, including 77% of Republicans, support banning these dangerous devices. Nearly three-fourths of voters in gun-owning households feel the same way. Broad bipartisan support to legislatively regulate or ban bump stocks is evident in state legislatures, law enforcement, and communities across the United States. While Congress has yet to take action, states across the country have taken meaningful and bipartisan action to ban bump stocks. Republican governors in both Massachusetts and New Jersey have signed bills into law, and legislatures in an additional 25 states have introduced versions of bump stocks bans.