As thousands of protestors march across the country in a bid to draw attention to school violence, President Trump is taking action on bump stocks. The add-on devices entered the national spotlight after the shooting last October. The new move effectively classifies them as machine guns, and makes owning them illegal.
Obama Administration legalized bump stocks. BAD IDEA. As I promised, today the Department of Justice will issue the rule banning BUMP STOCKS with a mandated comment period. We will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2018
“Obama Administration legalized bump stocks. BAD IDEA. As I promised, today the Department of Justice will issue the rule banning BUMP STOCKS with a mandated comment period. We will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns.”
Bump stocks have been a hot topic for months. Many supporters of the Second Amendment have seen this ban as a forgone conclusion. The real question, though, comes in the generalities.
“We will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns.” Just what is contained in that statement? It doesn’t matter much, as Trump’s words aren’t legally binding, but his direction to the Justice Department was enough for them to act.
The DOJ’s ruling will have the mandatory comment period, but the fate of bump stocks appears to be sealed.
The Justice Department’s proposal “would define ‘machine gun’ to include bump-stock-type devices under federal law — effectively banning them,” Mr. Sessions said in a statement.
“After the senseless attack in Las Vegas,” Mr. Sessions said, “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.”
There will be push-back against the new law, for sure. “When you pull the trigger once on a machine gun, multiple bullets fire, whereas each pull of a trigger fires a single round with bump stocks,” Josh Blackman, a professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston, told the NY Times. “People designed it this way deliberately to keep bump stocks from being defined as machine guns under the statute. It’s like the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion. The first is specifically to avoid being illegal.”
The timing of the news, coming the day before the march on Washington and other cities, may have been symbolic. It remains to be seen what other measures Trump has on his agenda.