by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
President Trump has issued a memo directing the Justice Department “to propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.” He is referring primarily to “bump stocks,” contraptions that make ordinary semiautomatic rifles fire nearly as quickly as the fully automatic weapons the military uses.
We are sympathetic to the president’s ends, but we strongly object to his means. Current law does not allow the executive branch to address bump stocks. This is a job for Congress.
Congress put strong limits on fully automatic weapons in 1934, including requiring their registration, and in 1986 it banned the introduction of new automatic weapons to the civilian market entirely. …
… It makes sense to ban the introduction of new bump stocks as well, especially after their use in the horrifyingly deadly Las Vegas attack last year. …
… It will take action from Congress, not a new interpretation of the law from the Trump administration, to regulate bump stocks. If the Justice Department proceeds with this rule, it will be overstepping its authority and running a risk that the policy will die in court.