In response to a national outcry over mass shootings perpetrated with automatic firearms, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has proposed banning a device which converts a firearm into an automatic weapon.
The potential new rule arrived one day ahead of the March for Our Lives rally on Saturday, a nationwide protest against guns.
The attachment, commonly referred to as a “bump stock,” increases the rate of fire on a weapon.
Under amended Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives rules, the device now falls under a “machine gun” classification in which the mechanism is effectively prohibited.
“[T]oday the Department of Justice is publishing for public comment a proposed rulemaking that would define ‘machinegun’ to include bump stock-type devices under federal law—effectively banning them. After the senseless attack in Las Vegas, this proposed rule is a critical step in our effort to reduce the threat of gun violence that is in keeping with the Constitution and the laws passed by Congress,” Sessions said in a statement unveiling the new rule.
Despite the proposal being entered by a gun rights friendly administration, advocacy groups argue federal authorities do not have the legal capacity to enact such a ban and have warned lawsuits will soon follow.
In 1986, Congress effectively outlawed machine guns, but the bill did not address auxiliary devices which alter semi-automatic weapons to make them fire at a rapid rate with a single squeeze of the trigger.
Bump stocks were the target of calls for strengthened gun control laws after Stephen Paddock murdered 58 concertgoers in Las Vegas in October 2017.
Following the February 14 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., in which 17 students were killed, the DOJ intensified its review of banning the attachment.
[The Hill] [Photo courtesy Slide Fire via Personal Defense World]