Washington: A nationwide ban on bump stocks goes into effect Tuesday — nearly 18 months after the shooting attack in Las Vegas that spawned it — meaning gun owners must destroy the devices or turn them in to authorities.
Bump stocks increase a gun’s rate of fire by using the recoil to have the gun fire continuously, nearly converting a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic machine gun. With a bump stock, some guns can fire between 400 and 500 rounds per minute. The devices have been opposed by lawmakers and President Donald Trump since the October 2017 Las Vegas shooting during which gunman Stephen Paddock used one to fire more than 1,000 rounds at concertgoers and kill 58 people.
Beginning Tuesday, it’s illegal to own, buy or sell a bump stock. There is no grandfather clause, either, meaning enthusiasts who own them must turn them in to the bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives without compensation. Possession could result in a $250,000 fine or a year in prison.
“We are faithfully following President Trump’s leadership by making clear that bump stocks, which turn semiautomatics into machine guns, are illegal, and we will continue to take illegal guns off our streets,” then-acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker said in December.
The ban comes as a gun rights group is appealing a related case to the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping the high court will overturn the ban.
“We still feel that the regulation is a factual misreading of the statute, and that ultimately we will be vindicated on it,” said Michael Hammond, legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America.
Gun Owners of America has led the charge against bump stock ban with lawsuits in Washington state, Ohio, Utah and Michigan. They estimate more than 500,000 Americans have bump stocks. A federal court in Cincinnati has denied the group’s request for a preliminary injunction.
Gun control advocates like the Brady Group say the ban is a much needed safety measure.
“The strongest and best solution is for our congressional leaders to classify bump stocks as illegal machine guns once and for all so that our communities are no longer at risk from these destructive devices,” said Brady Group spokesman Max Samis.
Survivors of the Las Vegas attack sued Slide Fire Solutions, the company that manufactured the bump stock used by Paddock. The suit accused the company of negligence and said the devices are a deliberate attempt to bypass regulations that outlaw automatic weapons. The case was dismissed in September, after the Justice Department had already taken steps to ban bump stocks.
Image: A billboard advertises a gun show near the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where Stephen Paddock shot dozens of concertgoers during an attack, on October 4, 2017.