Gun Owners Have Until Late March to Destroy or Surrender Bump Stocks
In keeping with a promise, the Trump administration has moved to ban bump stocks. Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker signed the regulation on Tuesday, which classifies bump stocks as machine guns. In fact, the regulation bans all devices that allow semi-auto rifles to fire like a full auto.
Pres. Donald Trump promised to ban these items back in March, after the Las Vegas shooting in 2017. So, he ordered the Department of Justice to look into the issue. During a news briefing, Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Pres. Trump was “once again fulfilling a promise he made to the American people,” according the Associated Press.
This action reverses a decision made in 2010 that determined bump stocks were not machine guns. Back then, the ATF said that Congress would have to pass a law to regulate these devices.
The regulation goes into effect 90 days after being published in the Federal Register, which should be on Friday. If this does happen, owners must either destroy or surrender all such devices to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives by March 21, 2019.
Of course, no one knows how many of these devices have been obtained by shooters, but most estimate it is between 280,000 and about 520,000. Also, it will be difficult to determine if gun owners are abiding by the new rule. Those who don’t will face up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 in fines for each violation.
Opposition to Banning Bump Stocks
While many support this change in regulation, others oppose the move. Those people feel that these devices are not firearms, therefore, not regulated by federal gun laws. Nor should they be since rifles with bump stocks still only fire one round with each trigger pull.
“They were just looking for a scapegoat,” said Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, to the Salt Lake Tribune. “And they found one.”
However, Aposhian does claim he will abide by the law and either destroy or turn in his device. He isn’t sure if others will do the same.
Of course, some groups have threatened legal action. Gun Owners of America has already put out a press release saying the group will file a lawsuit seeking an injunction. The National Rifle Association hasn’t said whether it will join the lawsuit, but did put out a statement requesting that amnesty be given to those who already own bump stocks.
“We are disappointed that this final rule fails to address the thousands of law-abiding Americans who relied on prior ATF determinations when lawfully acquiring these devices,” NRA spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said.
The ATF has issued instructions on how to properly destroy bump stocks to comply with the regulation.
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