In an unexpected move, the National Rifle Association is urging the Trump administration to “review” the legality of “bump stocks” that can alter semiautomatic weapons to allow more rapid firing.
“Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law,” said NRA executive president Wayne LaPierre and NRA political strategist Chris Cox. “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”
The NRA’s statement comes after the massacre of 58 people in Las Vegas, by a gunman who used a modified weapon to fire down at a crowd, scrambled the politics of gun control. In interviews since Monday morning, multiple Republicans in congressional leadership — including House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) — have called for a hard look at bump stocks. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), a moderate Republican facing a tough 2018 reelection campaign, is expected to introduce a bipartisan bill to ban the devices.
The NRA’s framing of the issue echoes an argument made Thursday morning by White House adviser Kellyanne Conway that the deregulation of bump stocks had been an Obama administration blunder.
“It was President Obama’s ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, in 2010 that decided not to regulate this device,” she told CNN’s Chris Cuomo. “That should be part of the conversation and part of the facts that you put before your viewers.”
The Obama administration’s role in the deregulation was previously reported by The Washington Post; on Wednesday, Obama-era ATF official Rick Vasquez, who approved the devices, said that they were intended “for those guys who want to look like super ninja when they’re out on the range.” At the time, the Obama administration did not think they contravened federal regulations against machine guns, as they did not modify the machinery of guns themselves.
But in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, Washington seemed increasingly ready to dump bump stocks. In another part of its statement, the NRA emphasized that it was still working toward the pro-gun priorities it had been trying to advance this year.
“On behalf of our five million members across the country, we urge Congress to pass National Right-to-Carry reciprocity, which will allow law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families from acts of violence,” LaPierre and Cox said.