Trump moves to ban bump stocks

Matt Saintsing
February 20, 2018 - 5:09 pm

Photo by Chuck Liddy/Raleigh News & Observer/TNS/Sipa USA

President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday, he has directed Attorney General Jeff Sessions to propose regulations that would ban “bump stocks,” an attachment that allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire just as rapidly as a fully-automatic one.

"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 Medal of Valor event at the White House, addressing Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

"I expect these regulations to be finalized, Jeff, very soon," said the President.

Here’s how they work:

A “bump stock” replaces a rifle’s standard stock, or lower receiver, which is pressed against the shoulder. By harnessing the recoil energy, the enhanced stock is free to slide back and forth quickly. Rather than the shoulder fully absorbing the kickback, the firearm “bumps” quickly between the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger, allowing the rifle to fire much more rapidly.

All a shooter has to do is hold his or her trigger finger while maintaining some forward pressure on the barrel, and backward pressure on the pistol grip (assuming there is one).

With semi-automatic weapons, the trigger must be pulled each time to fire a round; the weapon then reloads itself and the trigger must be pulled again.

Despite allowing a legal weapon to fire close to the rate of a fully automatic firearm, the bump stock is not banned under federal statute, and can be bought anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars for one. Since the devices don’t alter the rifle to fire automatically, they are completely legal for now.

Bump stock were thrust onto the national stage last October when a sole gunman in Las Vegas used the technology to kill 58 innocent people attending a concert.

The National Rifle Association issued a statement in October “calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.”

“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” the statement reads.

“We can do more to protect our children. We must do more to protect our children,” Trump said Tuesday.

Asked on Tuesday if the President would support measures that would raise the federal age limit for certain weapons, like the AR-15, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not rule it out.

"I think that's certainly something that's on the table for us to discuss and that we expect to come up over the next couple of weeks," she said.

The age limit for purchasing an AR-15 is 18, while the limit for handguns in most states is 21.