Can bump stocks be banned by executive action?
Yesterday, (Monday, Feb. 26, 2018) President Trump spoke about gun laws during a governors’ meeting at the White House saying he will bypass Congress if he must to ban bump stocks.
“It’s gone, don’t worry about it. … the bullets come out fast, but nobody knows where the hell they are going. You put it into the machine gun category, which is what it is. It becomes essentially a machine gun. …because we are going to make it so tough, you’re not going to be able to get them. Nobody’s going to want them anyway… Bump stocks, we’re writing that out. I’m writing that out myself. I don’t care if Congress does it or not, I’m writing it out myself.”
Bump stocks are currently not classified as machine guns.
The legal definition of a machine gun, according to the National Firearms Act is:
- Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger
- The frame or receiver of any such weapon
- Any part designed and intended solely and exclusively or combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, or
- Any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.
In 2010, the BATFE couldn’t find a way to classify a bump stock as a machine gun and does not regulate them, therefore the DOJ has no authority to ban them. However, Trump claims he could use executive action to ban them.
For bump stocks to be banned, Congress would have to pass a law that reclassifies them. Experts say that as soon as legislation passed that banned bump stocks, lawsuits would tie up the law for months, possibly years due to the legalities of such a law.
The Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) and Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF) have already retained lawyers ready to take any regulation on bump stocks to court.
Brandon Combs, FPC President said, “While we would prefer to block any executive action or rulemaking that would ban currently-legal firearms parts before it becomes law, we would not hesitate to file a federal lawsuit to protect the rights and legal personal property of gun owners if that’s what it takes.”
President Trump also told the governors that the NRA was on his side, but that he is also prepared to “fight” them.