Two months after a shooter in Las Vegas killed 58 people and injured hundreds more, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has just started reviewing whether it has the authority to ban bump stocks, used by the shooter to make his guns behave like automatic weapons, McClatchy Newspapers reports. After the mass murder, Democrats and Republicans in Congress began calling for more regulation of the devices. When the National Rifle Association opposed new legislation but said it would support regulatory measures by ATF, lawmakers called on the agency to determine whether it had the authority to regulate bump stocks without congressional action.
ATF said it was starting the process just before Acting Director Thomas Brandon is testifying to a Senate committee. Chris Harris, spokesman for Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), said Congress should act quickly to allow ATF to ban bump stocks. “There is bipartisan agreement on the issue – this isn’t hard,” Harris said. The issue is whether a bump stock can be classified as a machine gun, which ATF already has the power to regulate. The accessory allows legal semi-automatic weapons to function as illegal automatic ones, with a pull of the trigger initiating a spray of fire rather than a single bullet. Accessories can be classified as machine guns if they convert a firearm into a machine gun.