The Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and Department of Justice (DoJ) initiated a regulatory process on Tuesday to determine if bump stocks are illegal under federal prohibitions on machineguns.
The ATF has submitted an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to initiate the process. The public and industry groups will be able to submit formal comments on the legality of bump stocks during the process.
“The Department of Justice has the duty to enforce our laws, protect our rights, and keep the American people safe,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “Possessing firearm parts that are used exclusively in converting a weapon into a machine gun is illegal, except for certain limited circumstances. Today we begin the process of determining whether or not bump stocks are covered by this prohibition.”
The agencies will navigate the regulatory process required under law, Sessions said, and they will be attentive to public input.
“This Department is serious about firearms offenses, as shown by the dramatic increase in firearms prosecutions this year,” Sessions added. “The regulatory clarification we begin (on Tuesday) will help us to continue to protect the American people by carrying out the laws duly enacted by our representatives in Congress.”
Meanwhile, numerous law enforcement and community organizations have backed legislation that would ban the use of bump stocks like the one used in the Las Vegas shooting that left 59 people dead in October.
The Major Cities Chiefs Association and the National League of Cities are among groups that have backed the bill, the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act of 2017.
“Devices that prove legitimate in use for hunting and sports should remain available, but not changing a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire into a machine gun,” the Major Cities Chiefs Association said. “The language within the proposed bill defines that line for citizens as well as exempts law enforcement and the government from this ban. With the use of the bump stock, 59 people were murdered and over 400 injured in a matter of minutes. With a ban in place, we hope to prevent another mass murder on such a horrific scale.”