The most recent mass shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14th left many Americans calling for stricter gun control laws. But President Donald Trump mostly stayed quiet on the issue, neglecting to mention guns in any of his public addresses or tweets about the Florida shooting. Finally, on February 20th, Trump changed his tune, asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ban bump stocks, a weapon modification tool, on guns.
Trump announced his support of a bump stock ban at a Medal of Valor ceremony at the White House, noting that the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) have been reviewing the legality of the modifications since December.
In October, guns equipped with bump stocks were used in a shooting outside the Mandalay Bay hotel in Las Vegas. This modification to the gunman’s weapons enabled him to press the trigger of his semiautomatic rifle even faster. The Las Vegas shooting remains the deadliest in American history.
Trump’s call to ban bump stocks came a day after the White House issued a statement announcing the president’s support for more thorough background checks of those who wish to purchase guns. And Trump himself affirmed his desire for stronger background checks in a February 20th tweet.
But despite Trump’s newly announced support, a bump stock ban will be difficult to implement.
Past efforts to ban bump stocks have failed. Under President Barack Obama, the ATF found that the attachments could not be regulated by the federal government. According to The Nation, these modifications don’t meet the legal definition of automatic weapons, which are already banned. For this reason, any ban of bump stocks would require a new law to be passed in Congress — a very different step than what Trump proposed.
Trump is right that bump stocks should be banned, but unfortunately, until legislation is introduced in Congress, they probably won’t be. And banning bump stocks won’t stop all shootings; the Parkland shooter didn’t use one, for example. Nevertheless, gun control has not been significantly reformed since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, so change is long overdue. We hope that the government won’t stop at offering “thoughts and prayers” and instead take action to make our country safer.