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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, they 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, they 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 U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal regulation in a 6-3 ruling prohibiting ownership of bump stocks, a type of semi-automatic rifle accessory that enables the shooter to fire rapidly, simulating fully automatic fire. This type of accessory was responsible for killing 60 people during the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting – the deadliest mass shooting in American history – and was banned by the Trump administration in 2018 with wide bipartisan support.  

Over the years, multiple surveys and polls have indicated that a majority of Americans are in favor of banning bump stocks. The Supreme Court’s decision to reverse the ban was based on a legal challenge which argued these accessories were misclassified by the Justice Department as illegal machine guns. Read our statement.

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.   

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 with the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund.