The Slatest

Trump Says He Is Ordering Department of Justice to Ban Bump Stocks (Which Might Not Work)

Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday.
Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday. Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Donald Trump announced at a Tuesday White House event that he has directed attorney general Jeff Sessions to institute regulations that would ban the “bump stock” repeat-fire devices that were used in the October 2017 Las Vegas massacre. (While the move follows the deaths of 17 individuals in Parkland, Florida, there do not appear to have been any reports that the Parkland shooter used a bump stock.)

As a reporter at the Trace—a news site which covers gun violence—writes, though, it’s not clear that the executive branch has the authority to do this:

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After the Las Vegas shooting, the ATF formally solicited public comment about potential bump-stock regulations. The Trace found that 85 percent of the responses the ATF ultimately got were anti-regulation; general-population opinion polls, however, have found widespread support for a ban on sales of the devices. As with previous gun-control proposals, in other words, what we’re likely to see in response to Trump’s announcement (and any potential efforts to implement it legislatively) will involve gun-rights advocates trying to block a popular restriction by appealing to conservative and moderate politicians’ fear of getting taken down by highly motivated single-issue gun-enthusiast voters. What remains to be seen is whether recent massacres have changed politicians’ minds about just how important those gun-rights absolutists ultimately are.

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