On Monday, President Trump’s Department of Justice (DOJ) announced they are declaring bump stocks to be “machine guns” in order to ban them.
A bump stock is not a firearm; it is a firearm accessory. The DOJ is declaring them to be “machine guns” in order to ban them.
A March 12 press release put forth by the DOJ, says:
The Department of Justice is supporting President Trump’s absolute commitment to ensuring the safety and security of every American by submitting to the Office of Management and Budget a proposed regulation to clarify that bump stock type devices are machine guns under federal law, which will effectively ban the manufacture, sale or possession of these devices.
The push to ban bump stocks began in Congress almost immediately after the October 1, 2017, Las Vegas attack. On October 6 — just five days after the attack — Breitbart News reported that 11 Republicans supported some action on bump stocks. Those 11 were:
- House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) – On October 5, Speaker Ryan said legislation banning bump stocks is “clearly” something Congress must look into.
- Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) – Flores admitted he did not know what a bump stock was until this week, yet he says he looked into them and is backing gun control via a ban on them.
- Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) – On October 5, Yoder put out a press release in which he inaccurately claimed that bump stocks “convert legal firearms into an automatic weapon.” They do not. They are an accessory, not a conversion device. It is unclear whether Rep. Yoder used the term “ convert” in a colloquial or technical sense, but previously, under the Obama Administration, Rick Vasquez, former acting chief of the Firearms Technology Branch of the ATF, told USA Today that bump stocks were legalized because they are “an accessory, not a conversion device.”They do not. They are an accessory, not a conversion device. Nevertheless, Yoder supports gun control via restoring the ban on the devices.
- Rep. Mark Meadow (R-NC) – Meadows is the head of the House Freedom Caucus and according to the New York Times, he “would be open to considering a bill” that reinstates a ban on bump stocks.
- Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) – NYT reports that Curbelo is drafting gun control legislation to banbump stocks “conversion kits.” (apparently referring to bump stocks as “conversion kits”) – which the Obama Administration said they were not.
- Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) – On October 4, Breitbart News reported that Cornyn said a hearing on a bump stock ban would be “worthwhile.”
- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) – On October 4, Politico reported that Johnson said, “Automatic weapons are illegal. If … [the bump stock] facilitates that, to me it would be subject to the same ban. If that actually gets on the Senate floor, I’d vote for it.”
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) – NYT reports Graham “would be open to considering legislation on bump stocks.”
- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – NYT reports Hatch “would be open to considering legislation on bump stocks.”
- Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) – Rubio said he and his colleagues “would always be open” to addressing “vulnerabilities in federal law.”
- Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) – During an October 5 on CBS This Morning, Kasish was asked if he supported gun control via a ban on bump stocks and he said, “Oh, yeah of course.”
But the American people did not rally behind a bump stock ban, and the legislative pushes soon faded awaybut a push for the ATF to ban bump stocks by regulation remained alive. but hopes for regulatory gun control, via the ATF, stayed alive. For example, the NRA encouraged Congress not to pass new laws while, at the same time, encouraging the ATF to re-evaluate bump stocks. The NRA’s position was that “devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”
The ATF began looking into redefining the term “machine gun” so that it referenced machine guns and non-machine guns as well. This allows them to treat simple, plastic firearm accessories, like bump stocks, on par with actual conversion devices that change the action of firearms.
On March 10, Trump’s DOJ announced it was close to finalizing a bump stock ban and on March 12 the DOJ made clear the ban will center on including plastic, barrel-less stocks, trigger-free stocks bump stock devices within the definition of “machine guns.”
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.