Cross that one off our Christmas wish list. Maybe.
President Donald Trump delivered on his pledge to ban bump stocks last week when the Justice Department issued new regulations saying the devices, which attach to the butt of a rifle and uses the energy of the gun’s recoil to automatically fire another round without pulling the trigger, will be classified as machine guns.
Bump stocks jumped from obscurity into the national headlines last year when a madman used them to fire down from a high-rise casino hotel in Las Vegas into a packed outdoor music concert killing 58 concert-goers and wounding more than 400 others.
In the wake of that carnage, we have repeatedly called for a bump stock ban even as Congress dithered over whether it would take new legislation or if it could be implemented by a rule change by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which had previously ruled in 2010 that the devices had no mechanical parts or springs and, thus, could not be classified as machine guns and subject to heavy ownership restrictions.
The simple facts are that bump stocks have no legitimate uses — not for hunting, not for self-protection against a home invader, not for military purposes. Their sole use is to give gun hobbyists the opportunity to get their jollies by firing off dozens of rounds in short order to blow up targets or — as we learned from Las Vegas — to rain death on innocent concert-goers.
Under the new ATF rules published Friday, bump stock owners have 90 days to destroy the devices or turn them over to the ATF.
We’re hoping that happens, but as in all things in our contentious society — especially when it comes to gun issues — we expect the new rules will have to run the gamut of our court system before the ban can actually go into effect. Within hours of the ATF rule publication, gun owner groups were already threatening a legal challenge.
And even as the regulatory changes were published, a bump stock supplier, RW Arms, based in Fort Worth, Texas, which bought out the stock of Slide Fire Solutions, the country’s major manufacturer of the devices, was still offering them for sale — some with Christmas discounts.
So there may still be a few new lethal, nonsensical presents under Christmas trees across the nation tomorrow. They’ll probably be wrapped in paper, tied with bows and carry the message “piece on earth.”
Maybe next Christmas will be different.