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The Trump Administration Has Officially Banned Bump Stocks—But Gun Rights Activists Have Already Filed A Lawsuit Over It

The Trump administration announced on Tuesday that bump stock devices have been banned. Bump stocks—a type of handgun accessory that allows shooters to fire bullets from a semi-automatic weapon faster than normal—rose to national attention following the shooting of 58 people in Las Vegas in 2017. According to CNN, anyone who owns the devices will have 90 days to turn in or destroy from when the regulation is officially published. 

When announcing the new policy, the Justice Department said that bump stocks will now qualify as machine guns because they “allow a shooter of a semi-automatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.” Machine guns are currently illegal to own, but only law enforcement agencies can use them, according to The Washington Post.

“A semi-automatic firearm to which a bump-stock type device is attached is able to produce automatic fire with a single pull of the trigger,” wrote the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in it’s ruling. “With limited exceptions, the Gun Control Act [of 1968] makes it unlawful for any person to transfer or possess a machine gun unless it was lawfully possessed prior to the effective date of the statute. The bump-stock type device covered by this final rule were not in existence prior to the effective date of the statute, and therefore will be prohibited when this rule becomes effective.”

Bump-stock owners will have 90 days from when the ban is published in the federal register to turn them into a local Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms office or destroy them, CNN reports. 

The ban is expected to have legal challenges from gun rights activists. 

Hours after officials announced the ban, three gun rights advocacy organizations reportedly have already filed a lawsuit. BuzzFeed News reports that the Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, Madison Society Foundation, and bump stock owner Damien Guedes have filed in order to “prevent ATF from enforcing this new rule.” 

More push back from gun rights organization is expected, but the Justice Department argues, according to BuzzFeed News, that “we will be ready to defend no matter who files [a lawsuit].” 

President Trump announced that he would ban bump stocks earlier in the year. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions also announced a similar, yet unofficial rule back in March. 

Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, who was Sessions’ former chief of staff, signed the final rule on Tuesday. After Sessions resigned in November, Whitaker assumed office without Senate confirmation. There are currently multiple lawsuits challenging Whitaker’s appointment, according to CNBC. The three gun rights organizations who filed a lawsuit against the ban on Tuesday argued that his appointment and signing of the ban was unconstitutional. Whitaker “lacks authority to oversee the new rule because he should never have been appointed,” the gun rights organizations told BuzzFeed News.

Carissa Dunlap is a Her Campus News X Social Intern for Summer 2018. She is a current Publishing major and Journalism minor at Emerson College (Class of 2020). When she isn't perusing the YA bookshelf at the bookstore, she can be found watching dog videos on Facebook, at her favorite coffee shops, or relaxing on the beach. Follow her on Instagram @dunlapcarissa or Twitter @Caridunlap.