Michigan reps seek to limit access to bump stocks

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — A month after the massacre in Las Vegas, U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee and Dave Trott are introducing a bipartisan bill to regulate bump stock devices under the National Firearms Act, similar to the strict controls on machine gun ownership.

Bump stocks are the devices that allowed the Vegas gunman to modify his semiautomatic rifles to fire at a rate similar to a machine gun, without actually converting the firearms to a fully automatic weapon. The devices are not prohibited under federal or Michigan law.

The legislation is also sponsored by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, a Pennsylvania Republican, and Dina Titus, a Nevada Democrat, whose district was the site of the Vegas massacre that left 58 people dead and roughly 500 injured at an outdoor country music concert — the deadliest U.S. mass shooting in modern history.

The legislation would insert a new category for bump stocks and similar devices to the existing framework of the National Firearms Act of 1934 that also regulates silencers and machine guns.

The measure would require anyone in possession of or purchasing a bump stock to register with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

That registration process would involve a background check, fingerprinting and a $200 registration fee. This restriction aims to keep the devices out of the hands of keep criminals and violent people, said Kildee, D-Flint Township.

“I don’t think these devices have any place in our society. My approach has been to use every possible tool available to get them off the street,” Kildee said.

“This is immediately actionable if this legislation would be passed. It would allow the ATF to move right away to affect access to these terrible devices,” Kildee said.

Trott, R-Birmingham, said the bill aims to close the loophole allowing semi-automatic firearms to be modified to perform like fully automatic weapons.

“Most importantly, this bill ends the cycle of knee-jerk legislation, hastily thrown together in the wake of these all too common tragedies,” Trott said in a statement.

“Rather, this is a proactive approach that gives the ATF the regulatory flexibility it needs to hold these devices to the highest level of scrutiny, while protecting Americans’ Second Amendment right.”

The Kildee-Trott bill differs from legislation introduced in the U.S. House shortly after the Vegas massacre that would ban the manufacture, possession, transfer, sale or importation of bump stocks.

It’s unclear whether GOP leaders in the House or Senate will take up the legislation. Some Republicans and the NRA have called on the ATF to review its classification of bump stocks, which the agency in 2010 and 2012 determined complied with federal law.

But the ATF Association, a group of current and former AFT employees, has said it’s up to Congress to regulate bump stocks and similar devices, which are “engineered to avoid regulation under federal law,” the group said in a letter to lawmakers this month.

Under federal law, the agency may only restrict devices that, like machine guns, cause multiple bullets to fire with the pull of a trigger. Bump stocks make semiautomatic weapons fire faster, but the weapon technically fires only once with each operation of the trigger.

Michael Bouchard, president of the ATF Association, endorsed the Kildee-Trott bill in a statement, urging Congress to pass the bill.

“The horror of this event was exacerbated by the bump stock, a device engineered to avoid regulation under federal law — but unfortunately, it is not surprising,” Bouchard said.

“We are grateful to Representatives Fitzpatrick, Kildee, Titus and Trott for introducing this proposal that will regulate these dangerous weapons under the National Firearms Act, and for recognizing the need for Congress to act to keep American communities safe.”


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