A bipartisan group of lawmakers will introduce a bill on Thursday to ban the sale of bump stocks and other devices that enable semi-automatic firearms to increase their rate of fire and effectively operate as fully automatic weapons, the bill’s lead sponsor told CNN.
Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich and Catherine Cortez Masto, as well as Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, have all signed onto the bill. The proposed legislation comes after two federal appeals courts ruled to strike down a 2017 ban on bump stocks from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The bill faces an uphill battle on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have conceded that the recent shootings across the US are not enough move substantial gun reform measures through a divided Congress.
Heinrich, Collins, Cortez Masto and Titus, however, argue their bill has a shot of garnering more support – even among conservatives reluctant to take federal action – given the courts recent rulings and the fact that the initial ban on bump stocks was approved by former President Donald Trump.
Following the October 1, 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas – when a gunman used a bump stock to fire more than 1,000 bullets into a crowd in just 10 minutes, killing 59 people – the ATF, under the Trump administration, initiated its ban on bump stocks.
However in January 2023, the New-Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the ban, ruling that it would require an “act of Congress” to federally outlaw the use of such devices. The Biden administration later appealed the court’s decision and asked the Supreme Court to weigh in, saying it “threatens significant harm to public safety.”
In April, the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Cincinnati, similarly ruled that ATF went beyond its legal authority when it banned the devices by classifying them as “machine gun” parts.
The lawmakers backing the new legislation, titled the BUMP Act, argue their bill is now necessary to enshrine a ban on bump stocks into federal law and prevent the Supreme Court from potentially striking down the 2017 law altogether.
“In January, a federal court of appeals ruled that it would require an ‘act of Congress’ to federally outlaw bump stocks. Here it is,” Heinrich said in a statement to CNN. “Bump stocks exist to kill the most people in the shortest amount of time. There’s no good reason any person should have them in their possession. It’s past time we ban these deadly devices for good.”
Both Heinrich and Collins were part of the Senate group that worked on the bipartisan gun safety bill that passed through Congress last year, and they hope they can apply a similar strategy to passing their latest measure. The senators have been in talks with a series of other lawmakers about potentially signing onto the bill and hope to add more cosponsors in the coming weeks.