Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump’s desire for military parade: ‘We have a Napoleon in the making’ MORE said Tuesday he has directed the Department of Justice to propose regulations that would ban bump stocks, devices that allow semi-automatic guns to be modified to shoot hundreds of rounds per minute.

“We can do more to protect our children. We must do more to protect our children,” Trump said during the announcement at the White House.

Bump stocks came to the forefront of the gun control debate after the deadly mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival in October that left nearly 60 dead and more than 500 injured. The gunman in that incident allegedly used a bump stock device.

After the deadly Las Vegas shooting, Trump said he directed Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law New immigration policy leaves asylum seekers in the lurch MORE to clarify whether certain bump stock devices like the once used in Las Vegas are illegal under current law.

“That process began in December and just a few moments ago I signed a memorandum directing the Attorney General to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns,” Trump said Tuesday.

“I expect that these critical regulations will be finalized, Jeff, very soon.”

The announcement from Trump came as a surprise given that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) had yet to decide whether it would create new restrictions for the attachment that enables a semiautomatic rifle to fire at a faster rate.

ATF put out a request for comment in December on whether it should issue a regulation and received more than 36,000 comments on the topic. Most of the responses were in opposition to any new rules on the sale or use of bump stocks.

While ATF is under the control of the Department of Justice, it’s unclear whether the attorney general can order it to issue a rulemaking.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president supports not having the use of bump stocks and the White House expects further action in the coming days.

“He ordered the Department of Justice and the ATF to review the regulation of bump stocks,” she said. “My understanding is that review has been completed and movement will take place on that shortly. But the president, when it comes to that, is committed to ensuring those devices … The president doesn’t support the use of those accessories.”

The announcement comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill are trying to decide what to do to curb gun violence.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGreen group backs Sens. Baldwin, Nelson for reelection Dems press Trump for ‘Buy American’ proposals in infrastructure plan Chuck Schumer’s deal with the devil MORE (D-Conn.) called Trump’s move a “small, but vital step.”

“Sign after sign this week that we’ve hit a fulcrum point in this debate where politicians are, for the first time, scared on the political consequences of inaction on guns. Small, but vital step in the history of our movement,” he commented on Twitter.

Sign after sign this week that we’ve hit a fulcrum point in this debate where politicians are, for the first time, scared on the political consequences of inaction on guns. Small, but vital step in the history of our movement. https://t.co/LVRAyPnzRp

– Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) February 20, 2018

Jonathan Easley contributed to this report. Updated at 4:40 p.m.