After a gunman killed 59 people and injured several hundred more with a modified weapon that mimicked the firing capacity of an automatic weapon, the National Rifle Association seemed to signal its endorsement of legislation banning bump stock gun devices.
However, nearly a week after appearing to offer an astounding concession, the NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre, indicated that the gun lobby had no intention of backing such legislation. Instead, LaPierre posited, bump stocks should be regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In 2010, the ATF determined bump stocks were “firearm parts” and not firearms, therefore exempt from regulation.
On Thursday, a NRA spokeswoman confirmed their opposition to two pieces of legislation banning bump stocks that were separately introduced by Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein and House Representatives Carlos Curbelo, a Republican from Florida’s 26th district, and Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts’ sixth district.
“We oppose the gun-control legislation being offered by Senator Feinstein and Representatives Curbelo and Moulton,” said Jennifer Baker, a spokeswoman for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “These bills are intentionally overreaching and would ban commonly owned firearm accessories.”
Reiterating the NRA’s push for ATF regulation, Baker added that the federal bureau should “review bump-fire stocks to ensure they comply with federal law.” Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan echoed their sentiment on Wednesday. “We think the regulatory fix is the smartest, quickest fix,” he said during a press conference on Capitol Hill.
Bump stocks don’t actually change the triggering of the gun, a function the ATF has the power to regulate based on the 1968 Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act. So without congressional action, it’s difficult to imagine a situation where the ATF could regulate bump stocks, a firearm part, given the limitations of current laws.