I wanted to share additional resources following today’s news that the U.S. Supreme Court will not block the Department of Justice’s final rule to prohibit the production, sale and possession of bump stocks.
A Lawfare Op-Ed from late last month, co-authored by Everytown for Gun Safety’s litigation director, analyzed the legal context for the Department of Justice’s rule and urged courts to reject legal challenges brought by gun rights groups.
“Because the new regulation is based on a reasonable interpretation of long-standing law, the courts should reject these challenges,” wrote the authors, Everytown’s Eric Tirschwell and Mary McCord, senior litigator and visiting professor of law at Georgetown Law School’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection. Read the full Op-Ed here.
Machine guns have been tightly regulated under federal law since the 1930s, but bump stocks and other conversion devices are designed to skirt the law and mimic automatic gunfire and can increase the lethality of shootings. Guns equipped with bump stocks were used in the largest and deadliest mass shooting in modern American history last year in Las Vegas, where 58 people were shot and killed and hundreds more were wounded.
In response to a December 2017 advance notice of proposed rulemaking, Everytown filed a formal comment urging the Department of Justice to clarify that existing federal law does indeed prohibit bump stocks and many other conversion devices. Everytown also explained that some devices are not included under the current statute, and urged Congress to finish the work of prohibiting all of these dangerous accessories by passing legislation.
Since the shooting in Las Vegas, the gun safety movement has organized a tremendous amount of grassroots energy and harnessed it to participate in the regulatory process.
During the second round of public comments on the proposed regulation, the number of comments more than tripled as Everytown and Moms Demand Action mobilized tens of thousands of gun safety supporters to demand action to prohibit bump stocks and similarly deadly devices. An ATF analysis showed that in that period, of the nearly 120,000 comments filed, more than 64 percent of the comments expressed support for regulating bump stocks.
A “bump stock” is a device that harnesses the recoil of a semiautomatic firearm to fire several shots in succession, mimicking automatic fire. One distributor, Slide Fire Solutions, advertised that their device enabled a shooter to fire 100 rounds in 7 seconds. The devices attempt to skirt around the National Firearms Act (NFA), which has successfully regulated the sale of machine guns and other deadly weapons for nearly a century.