President Donald Trump, who came into office with support from the nation’s gun owners, has reportedly signed a memo to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that directs the Department of Justice to propose regulations that could ban so-called “bump stock” devices, the Associated Press is reporting.
The president’s directive reportedly wants the Justice Department to “ban all devices” that increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle. Bump stocks were used by Steven Paddock during his Oct. 1, 2017 rampage in Las Vegas that left 58 people dead and hundreds injured. It is the only identified crime in which one of the accessory devices was used.
The announcement comes less than a week after a 19-year-old opened fire at a Florida high school. Seventeen students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were killed, but the accused shooter in that incident did not use a bump stock on his AR-type rifle.
According to CNBC, Paddock had at least a dozen firearms that were equipped with bump stocks.
The Chicago Sun Times is reporting that the president has also indicated that he may support some strengthening of federal background checks on firearms purchasers, but that may not be too alarming to the firearms community.
For some time, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has pushed a project dubbed “FixNICS” referring to the National Instant Check System that was created more than 20 years ago to provide quick background checks in an effort to keep firearms out of the wrong hands.
But there have been some significant government failures to provide the NICS system with information on people who would likely have been denied, had the system been kept up to date. The shooter in last year’s church attack in Sutherland Springs, Texas had been able to purchase guns despite a criminal conviction in the Air Force. Ironically, that gunman was shot by an armed citizen who also used an AR15.
Since last week’s school shooting, high school students in Florida and across the country have been demanding stricter gun laws, including a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” There are millions of those in private hands, so a ban might be far easier to talk about than to implement.