Justice Department officials say they do not believe they can regulate the sale of gun bump stocks without congressional action, underscoring concern that an ongoing administrative review into that question is little more than an effort to slow-roll a politically divisive issue, says the New York Times. DOJ had announced this month that it would review whether bump stocks, a firearm accessory that can turn a semiautomatic rifle into a full-fledged machine gun, are prohibited under a federal statute that outlaws fully-automatic weapons. The review was prompted by the October mass shooting in Las Vegas, where Stephen Paddock outfitted semiautomatic weapons with bump stocks to kill 58 concertgoers.
Comments from Justice Department officials suggest there is little appetite within the agency to regulate bump stocks. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the leading Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee and co-author of a bill to ban the devices, noted that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has said “that current law does not allow the agency to ban or regulate bump-fire stocks.” Those hoping to limit bump stocks are losing what little momentum they had in Congress. A once-narrow, bipartisan effort to limit the sale of the device has diffused into other gun control measures after the Nov. 5 mass shooting, in Sutherland Springs, Tx., which highlighted the gaps in the government’s background check system.