Updated 8:02 p.m.
President Trump has directed his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to explore ways to make the firearm accessory known as the “bump stock” illegal. “Just a few moments ago I signed a memo directing the attorney general to propose regulations that ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns,” Trump said at a White House event earlier today, which Sessions attended.
“I expect these regulations to be finalized, Jeff, very soon,” Trump said, addressing Sessions directly.
White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, hinted at such a ban moments earlier. “The President, when it comes to that, is committed to ensuring that those devices are — again I’m not going to get ahead of the announcement, but I can tell you that the President doesn’t support use of those accessories,” Sanders said.
John Feinblatt, President of the Gun Control advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety, welcomed the news from White House but cautioned that much more needed to be done if American families are going to be kept safe from gun violence.
In a statement to ITN, Feinblatt said, “This sounds like a good initial step, but the devil is in the details, and it remains to be seen whether the Department of Justice will actually prohibit bump stocks, or if the White House is playing games. Regardless, this action alone is not enough…The White House and Congress need to do much more, starting with legislation to require criminal background checks on every gun sale — supported by 95 percent of Americans.”
Bump stocks are accessories that, when attached to the end of a rifle, use the force of the gun’s kickback to allow a shooter to rapidly increase the rate at which the trigger is pulled. Many more rounds of ammunition are fired than would otherwise be when one is in use.
Bump stocks became the subject of much debate last year when it was learned that the assailant in the Las Vegas mass shooting used them to increase the number of rounds he fired. That assailant, Stephen Paddock, fired on an unsuspecting crowd of concertgoers from his 32nd-floor hotel room, killing fifty-eight and wounding 500 others.
The White House has been under increasing political pressure to move on gun control measures since a gunman opened fire in a Florida high school killing seventeen and wounding several others last week. An AR-15 assault rifle was used in that attack, although the firearm was not outfitted with a bump stock.
Yesterday, the President indicated his support for the so-called FixNICS Act, which would incentivize states and federal agencies to keep the National Instant Criminal Background Check System updated with the latest information about individuals who should be prevented from purchasing firearms.
“While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system,” Sanders told reporters yesterday.