The Trump administration has begun the process of banning the sale of bump stocks — an attachment that allows semiautomatic rifles to fire more rapidly. By late March, possession of bump stocks could be illegal.
Bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly like automatic firearms, have come under increasing scrutiny after they were used in October 2017 when a man opened fire from his Las Vegas hotel suite into a crowd at a country music concert below, killing 58 people and injuring hundreds more in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
“Following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, ATF received correspondence from members of the United States Congress, as well as nongovernmental organizations, requesting that ATF examine its past classifications and determine whether bump-stock type devices available on the market constitute machineguns under the statutory definition,” the regulation, which was signed by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Tuesday morning, noted.
It continued: “The Department decided to move forward with the rulemaking process to clarify the meaning of these terms, which are used in the NFA’s (National Firearms Act) statutory definition of ‘machinegun.’”
The regulation will go into effect 90 days after it is formally published in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen on Friday, a Justice Department official said.
People who own bump stocks will be required to either surrender them to the ATF or destroy them by late March, the official said. The change has undergone a legal review and the Justice Department and ATF are ready to fight any legal challenge that may be brought, the official added.