This article was originally published on by Charlie Savage on Dec. 18, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Tuesday issued a new rule banning bump stocks, the attachments that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire in sustained, rapid bursts and that a gunman used to massacre 58 people and wound hundreds of others at a Las Vegas concert in October 2017.

The new regulation, which had been expected, would ban the sale or possession of the devices under a new interpretation of existing law. Americans who own bump stocks would have 90 days to destroy their devices or to turn them in to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The Justice Department said A.T.F. would post destruction instructions on its website.

Bump stocks work by harnessing a firearm’s recoil energy to slide it back and forth to bump against a squeezed trigger, so that it keeps firing without any need for the shooter to pull the trigger again. The Justice Department said that this function transforms semiautomatic weapons, like assault rifles styled on the AR-15, into fully automatic machine guns, which Congress sharply restricted in 1986 — allowing the ban.

“With limited exceptions, the Gun Control Act, as amended, makes it unlawful for any person to transfer or possess a machine-gun unless it was lawfully possessed prior to the effective date of the statute,” the new regulation states. “The bump-stock-type devices covered by this final rule were not in existence prior to the effective date of the statute, and therefore will be prohibited when this rule becomes effective.”

A senior Justice Department official, briefing reporters about the new rule on condition of anonymity, said that it was believed that tens of thousands of bump-stock devices are in circulation, but that more exact figures are unavailable. The official said the department expected that most owners of the devices would comply with the new regulation, and that A.T.F. would investigate and take legal action against those who violate it.

After publishing a proposed version of the rule earlier this year, the… Read Full Article >>