- President Donald Trump said he has directed the Justice Department to ban gun modifications such as bump stocks.
- The devices were used in last year’s deadly massacre in Las Vegas, giving the gunman rapid-fire capabilities though he only had semiautomatic rifles.
- The move to ban them comes just days after another mass shooting in Florida, though the suspected gunman did not use bump stocks.
President Donald Trump said Tuesday he has directed the Justice Department to ban devices that modify guns, such as the bump stocks used in last year’s massacre in Las Vegas.
Last October, gunman Stephen Paddock mowed down a crowd of concert-goers from his hotel room, after affixing bump stocks to at least 12 of his semiautomatic firearms.
The move to ban bump stocks comes barely a week after a mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead. The gunman did not use bump stocks on his AR-15 rifle, but the shooting prompted a renewed national debate about various gun-control measures.
Trump’s ban would apply to devices that essentially turn legal guns into essentially automatic weapons.
Trump made the announcement while hosting a ceremony for the Public Safety Medal of Valor Awards at the White House, and said he was grieving for the community of Parkland, Florida.
“We cannot imagine the depths of their anguish, but we can pledge the strength of our resolve,” Trump said. “And we must do more to protect our children. We have to do more to protect our children.
A bump stock is a device that can be legally purchased and installed onto semi-automatic firearms, such as AR-15, AK-47, and Saiga models, replacing the rifles’ standard stocks.
Unlike automatic firearms, which fire continuously while the trigger is pulled, semi-automatic weapons fire one round per trigger-pull. The bump stock harnesses the recoil energy produced when a shot is fired from a semi-automatic rifle, and it “bumps” the weapon back and forth between the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger.
Since the shooter’s finger is still pulling the trigger for each shot, the firearm technically remains a semi-automatic, even as it achieves a rate of fire similar to that produced by an automatic.
Legislative options are less clear
The White House on Monday signaled that Trump was open to supporting legislation on guns in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump spoke with Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, about his bipartisan bill to improve federal compliance with criminal background checks on gun buyers. Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, is a cosponsor of the legislation.
“The President spoke to Senator Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Sen. Murphy introduced to improve Federal Compliance with Criminal Background check Legislation,” Sanders said. “While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.”
The bill would penalize federal agencies that fail to provide the necessary records and reward states that comply with federal grant preferences and other incentives.
The senators introduced the background check bill in November after two of the deadliest mass shootings in modern US history — the massacre in Las Vegas and another at a church in Texas in which 26 people died.
In Florida on Tuesday, legislators voted down an attempt to revive a bill that would impose a ban on assault-style rifles.