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Should Bump Stocks Be Illegal?

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Bump stocks are devices that can make guns even more deadly. Instead of one bullet being released for each pull of the trigger, bump stocks allow for multiple shots to be fired every second. In the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting1, this led to 60 deaths and the wounding of at least 413 people.  

Following this event, bipartisan lawmakers called for an end to bump stocks. The president’s administration banned these devices in 2018. Unfortunately, a federal appeals court2 recently overturned this ban.  

What is the Definition of a Bump Stock? 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bump stocks are “devices that allow a semiautomatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger”3. They are an “add-on” to a semi-automatic firearm that makes it keep firing once the trigger is pulled. This makes their function nearly identical to machine guns, which fire repeatedly with one pull of the trigger by the shooter.  

The United States has had a ban on machine guns for nearly 4 decades. Machine guns, which are fully-automatic weapons, are exclusively for military purposes. Heavy regulations have been in place since the 1930s. Lawmakers and presidents on both sides of the aisle4 have supported these restrictions.   

Are Bump Stocks Illegal? Was the Ban Overturned?  

The 5th Circuit of New Orleans5 decision to overturn the Executive Order and regulations passed in 2018 put the ban in jeopardy nationwide. The order is still in effect in most of the country. But the court decision puts lives at risk in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, which make up the 5th Circuit.

Further, this case will likely head to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide if bump stock bans are constitutional. That could mean the Supreme Court either protects or overturns nearly 100 years of regulation, legislative intent and judicial precedence. 

Should Bump Stocks be Illegal? 

Sandy Hook Promise supporters we surveyed overwhelmingly agree that our elected officials should prohibit firearm modifications like bump stocks. Certain semi-automatic rifles, sometimes referred to as assault weapons, are too deadly already. These add-ons make them even more lethal.  

We call on our leaders to act to ensure that legislation is passed to stop these lethal devices from being sold.   

What You Can Do To Help Limit Deadly Bump Stocks 

It is important that lawmakers prohibit firearm modifications like bump stocks, which can make a semiautomatic weapon function like a machine gun. Find out more about our policy work and how you can get involved.