sunny.png
Sunday May 26th, 2019 1:55PM

Trump wants to ban bump stocks; ATF doesn't know if it can

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has ordered his Justice Department to work toward banning rapid-fire bump stocks like the ones used in last year's Las Vegas massacre— but officials aren't sure they can.

Trump's surprise order this week comes as officials from the department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are well into a review of whether they can regulate the devices without action from Congress.

The path to a ban is neither simple nor quick. An ATF ban on the accessories, which allow semi-automatic rifles to mimic machine guns, would likely thrust the department into a prolonged legal battle with gun manufacturers while the devices remain on the market. But any congressional effort to create new gun control laws would need support from the pro-gun Republican majority. And Republicans have moved in the other direction, attempting to loosen gun laws, even after 59 people were killed in Las Vegas.

Despite the president stepping up pressure on the department in the aftermath of the Florida high school shooting, some ATF officials maintain that only Congress can render such devices illegal, and, in any event, amending existing gun laws or passing new legislation would be a faster approach.

Acting ATF director Thomas Brandon has sent mixed signals on what the agency can do. He told lawmakers in December that the ATF and Justice Department would not have initiated the review if a ban "wasn't a possibility at the end," but he has also expressed doubt that it would be able to do so without congressional intervention.

ATF reviewed bump stocks and approved them in 2010, finding they did not amount to machine guns that are regulated under the National Firearms Act that dates to the 1930s.

But after bump stocks were used in Las Vegas, the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, calls mounted for a ban. The Justice Department announced in December it would again review whether they can be prohibited under federal law. Trump told officials to expedite the review, which the Justice Department said is ongoing.

ATF has received about 100,000 comments from the public and the firearms industry and says it has devoted additional manpower to reviewing them as quickly as possible.

Many of the comments are from gun owners angry over any attempt to regulate the accessory, which they view as a slippery slope toward outlawing guns all together. Gun Owners of America, for example, wrote that doing so "would set an incredibly dangerous precedent which would leave to administrative bans on virtually any type of firearm."

In that sense, they agree with Democrats like Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California that it's up to Congress to make any changes. After the Florida shooting, Republicans have proposed strengthening federal background checks but may not consider any gun control measure beyond that.

It would be legally problematic and politically untenable for the ATF to change course on its earlier finding, said Michael Bouchard, a retired assistant director who is now president of the ATF Association. Reversing its earlier evaluation could be seen as an admission that it was legally flawed, which manufacturers could seize on in court.

"How can they just change their mind now and go to court and defend that position, other than to say the president told us to find a way to ban them?" said Bouchard, whose association of current and former ATF officials wrote a letter to lawmakers in October arguing the burden is on Congress to clarify or modify existing law. "There are so many other kinds of devices that mimic what a bump stock does, it's a can of worms as to which one you ban and which one you don't."

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
The Latest: Pence says school safety 'top national priority'
Vice President Mike Pence says the Trump administration will make school safety "our top national priority" after last week's attack on a high school in Parkland, Florida
11:26AM ( 1 minute ago )
Trump wants to ban bump stocks; ATF doesn't know if it can
President Donald Trump has ordered his Justice Department to ban rapid-fire bump stocks like the ones used in last year's Las Vegas massacre_ but officials aren't sure they can
11:23AM ( 4 minutes ago )
Trump endorses raising minimum age to 21 for more weapons
President Donald Trump endorses a range of gun-control measures, including raising the minimum age to 21 for possessing more weapons than at present.
11:21AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Shelters open amid Midwest flooding as rivers keep rising
Shelters open to help people evacuated from their homes amid flooding in Indiana, Michigan and other parts of the Midwest
9:54AM ( 1 hour ago )
Pennsylvania congressional map battle lands in Supreme Court
A request by Republican leaders in the Pennsylvania Legislature to stop a new congressional map from being implemented is now in the hands of the nation's highest court
9:41AM ( 1 hour ago )
SpaceX launches Spanish satellite from California
A SpaceX rocket carrying a Spanish satellite has blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California
9:22AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
The Latest: NRA says left exploiting Florida school shooting
NRA chief Wayne LaPierre says supporters of gun control of exploiting the school shooting in Florida to promote an anti-gun agenda
10:28AM ( 59 minutes ago )
The Latest: Trump tweets support for NRA, weighs gun limits
President Donald Trump is offering a full-throated backing of the National Rifle Association
9:58AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Trump gun tweet on background checks, age limits
President Donald Trump is meeting with state and local officials from around the country to discuss school safety
9:26AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Trump pledges action on school safety, gun violence
Students and parents appealed to President Donald Trump to set politics aside and protect America's school children from the scourge of gun violence
12:11AM ( 11 hours ago )
Oversight committee wants to look at Pruitt's travel records
A congressional oversight committee wants to take a look at travel records for Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt
12:09AM ( 11 hours ago )
Angry teens swarm into Florida Capitol; demand new gun laws
Protesters, including many angry teens and shooting survivors, swarm into Florida Capitol
11:10PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Technology companies help drive US stocks broadly higher
Technology companies and banks are helping to drive U.S. stocks broadly higher in early trading
10:09AM ( 1 hour ago )
Ford names Lincoln chief to replace ousted N. American head
Ford Motor Co. has appointed the head of the Lincoln brand to replace the president for North America who was ousted Wednesday over allegations of inappropriate behavior
10:07AM ( 1 hour ago )
German court defers ruling on banning diesel cars in cities
A German court has deferred a decision on whether authorities can ban diesel cars from cities to lower pollution, a ruling that could have drastic consequences for the powerful auto industry
9:46AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
The Latest: Rev. Billy Graham to lie in honor at US Capitol
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan says the Rev. Billy Graham's body will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Feb. 28 and March 1
11:19AM ( 9 minutes ago )
Civil disobedience: Teen shooting survivors shake up Capitol
Some of the high school students who traveled to Florida's state capital for protests after last week's mass shooting committed what may have been their young movement's first act of civil disobedience
11:15AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Montenegro police official: US Embassy attacker ex-soldier
Montenegro police official: US Embassy attacker ex-soldier
11:10AM ( 17 minutes ago )
The Latest: Nelson credits Rubio for attending town hall
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida is giving fellow Sen. Marco Rubio credit for being the only Republican to attend a televised town hall meeting after the school shooting in their state
11:04AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Kings take shot at bringing NBA All-Star game to Sacramento
Kings look to cap big comeback by bringing All-Star game to Sacramento for 1st time
11:03AM ( 25 minutes ago )