The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has announced that they are beginning a review of bump stock attachments for semi-automatic weapons, possibly ending in regulation of the now-infamous devices, according to Reuters.
Bump stocks — which allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire in the manner of an automatic rifle — became a prominent part of the gun debate after they were used successfully by Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock to kill 58 and wound over 500 in the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. That shooting took place at Las Vegas’ Route 91 Harvest Festival in October of this year.
Twelve of the 23 rifles found in Paddock’s Mandalay Bay hotel room were equipped with the accessories. Paddock fired about 1,100 rounds of ammunition, and had thousands more rounds stockpiled in his room.
Despite brief bipartisan interest for a ban on bump stocks, and a handful of lawsuits against manufacturers of the devices, no legislation ever came about as a result of the shooting. One manufacturer waited just one month before resuming sales of the devices.
Now, the ATF — which would effect a regulatory, not legislative change to how bump stocks are controlled — is examining the devices with a critical eye.
A statement from Attorney General Jeff Session accompanied the release, according to the Free Beacon, and reads:
The Department of Justice has the duty to enforce our laws, protect our rights, and keep the American people safe. Possessing firearm parts that are used exclusively in converting a weapon into a machine gun is illegal, except for certain limited circumstances. Today we begin the process of determining whether or not bump stocks are covered by this prohibition.
The agency could classify bump stocks under the National Firearms Act, which would add a tax stamp to the devices and require registration with the ATF. The devices themselves — as with other gun parts like drop-in auto sears that enable fully automatic fire — can be classified as machine guns.
But it’s probably not that straightforward. The ATF reviewed bump stocks as recently as 2010 and deemed the Slide Fire device under review to be a firearm part with “no automatic function,” according to USA Today.
“We will go through the regulatory process that is required by law and we will be attentive to input from the public… the regulatory clarification we begin today will help us to continue to protect the American people by carrying out the laws duly enacted by our representatives in Congress,” added Sessions.