Justice Department proposes banning rapid-fire bump stocks

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The US Department of Justice on Saturday moved to ban bump stocks, firearm accessories used to mimic automatic fire.

On Saturday, the justice department submitted a proposed regulation that would prohibit the sale of the devices. Bump stocks, which enable guns to fire like automatic weapons, were not used in that attack - they were used in last year's Las Vegas massacre - but have since become a focal point in the gun control debate. The devices will remain on the market until the regulation is approved by the Office of Management and Budget.

The Justice Department's regulation would classify the hardware as a machine gun banned under federal law. And in December, Sessions announced that he was initiating the process to potentially change federal regulations and would be accepting public comments through January 25. If the Office of Management and Budget okays the proposed regulation, it would then be published, with members of the public allowed to comment, before a final version was put into place.

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The matter is more complicated than meets the eye.

An example of a bump stock that attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firing rate is seen at Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem, Utah, on October 4, 2017.

Under the proposal, bump stocks would be reclassified as machine guns.

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Bump stock manufacturers could challenge the regulation as being beyond the scope of the president's authority to regulate firearms.

Trump had indicated two days ago that the paperwork for a ban on bump stocks was almost done.

Trump's proposal comes in the midst of a national conversation on gun violence and school safety that began in February after a gunman killed 17 students and faculty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

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Such a change would reverse a 2010 decision by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that found bump stocks did not qualify as machine guns and could not be regulated without an amendment to existing firearms law or the passage of a new one. The law raises the legal age for buying rifles, imposes a three-day waiting period on all gun sales and allows the arming of some school employees.

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