Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it has begun the process of reviewing the legality of bump stocks, devices that allow the rapid firing of a semi-automatic weapon.
The department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began a rule-making process to interpret the definition of "machine gun" under federal law and determine whether bump stocks can be classified within that definition.
"Possessing firearm parts that are used exclusively in converting a weapon into a machine gun is illegal, except for certain limited circumstances," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. "Today we begin the process of determining whether or not bump stocks are covered by this prohibition."
Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old who carried out the Oct. 1 shooting that killed 58 people and injured hundreds more at a Las Vegas music festival used bump stocks to convert 12 of his guns to fire at higher rates than semi-automatic rifles usually do.
The National Rifle Association called for the ATF to review whether federal law allows the use of bump stocks. CEO Wayne LaPierre and Executive Director Chris Cox said devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.
A Las Vegas law firm and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence filed a class-action lawsuit Slide Fire Solutions, as well as manufacturers, sellers and marketers of bump stocks, on behalf of victims of the Las Vegas shooting.