Hours after the Trump Administration signaled that it would administratively move to ban ‘bump stocks,’ which allow semi-automatic weapons to be fired at a much more rapid rate, lawmakers in both parties said it was time for the Congress to enact those regulations into law, as opponents of the decision vowed to immediately challenge the President’s plan in court.
“We will be filing our lawsuit very, very soon,” the Gun Owners of America said in a written statement.
“After all, in the coming days, an estimated half a million bump stock owners will have the difficult decision of either destroying or surrendering their valuable property – or else risk felony prosecution,” the group added.
At the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed that is the plan, making clear that bump stocks will be illegal as of March 21, 2019.
“A 90 period now begins which persons in possession of bump stock type devices must turn those devices to an ATF field office, or destroy them by March 21,” Sanders said at the White House briefing.
Justice Department officials told reporters on Tuesday that bump stocks will be administratively banned by using language from a federal law which prohibits machine guns.
There was no immediate comment from the National Rifle Association on whether that group would join in legal action against bump stocks as well.
In Congress, lawmakers in both parties said while the President’s step is overdue, the House and Senate should also vote to codify the bump stock ban.
“This is good news, but it is just one small step toward stopping mass shootings,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH). “We must do far more to prevent gun violence.”
“There’s no justification for bump stocks that transform semi-automatic weapons into machine guns,” said Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).
“The President seems to be more interested in making headlines than making progress,” said Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV). “We know that his proposal will likely be tied up in the courts.”
58 people were killed in Titus’ district in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017, when a gunman opened fire on an outdoor concert, using ‘bump stocks’ to allow him to shoot more ammunition more quickly, in what was the deadliest mass shooting in the United States.
“Finally and should be codified,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), one of the few Republicans who has called for action on bump stocks in Congress.
But one GOP lawmaker in the House said the Trump plan could be unconstitutional.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) said the idea of people being forced to turn in their bump stocks, or destroy them, “seems like a violation of the “takings” clause of the 5th amendment.”