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Justice Department to ban bump stocks more than a year after Vegas shooting

By Sommer Brokaw
Justice Department to ban bump stocks more than a year after Vegas shooting
Chris and Debbie Davis, parents of Neysa Tonks, who was killed during the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, view a display dedicated to their late daughter at the "Healing Gardens" memorial on the one-year anniversary of the attack, in Las Vegas, Nevada on Oct 1, 2018. The Justice Department announced Tuesday it would ban bump stocks, the device used in the 2017 shooting that killed dozens. File Photo by James Atoa/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The Justice Department announced Tuesday it is banning bump stocks, devices that allow the kind of rapid-fire shooting used to kill dozens in Las Vegas more than a year ago.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announced the regulation, which amends current restrictions on the devices and clarifies they effectively render firearms into machine guns, in a Department of Justice statement.

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"We are faithfully following President Trump's leadership by making clear that bump stocks, which turn semiautomatics into machine guns, are illegal, and we will continue to take illegal guns off of our streets," Whitaker said.

The ruling follows an extended delay on Trump's promised ban.

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The October 1, 2017, shooting in Las Vegas in which Stephen Paddock used bump stocks to fire semi-automatic weapons much faster than usual killed nearly 60 people and injured hundreds more.

Trump said in a media briefing on the one-year anniversary of the Vegas shooting it would take "two or three weeks" to ban bump stock devices. He announced in February that he signed a directive to order the Justice Department to ban bump stocks. The department has been looking into the legality of such a ban since last December.

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ATF previously approved the legality of bump stocks in 2010, finding they did not turn firearms into machine guns.

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However, the Justice Department determined in the regulation announced Tuesday that with bump stocks, "the trigger resets and continues firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter."

The devices "allow a semiautomatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger by harnessing the recoil energy of the semi-automatic firearm to which it is affixed," the regulation states.

The department reviewed more than 186,000 public comments since Trump issued the memo instructing the Attorney General "to dedicate all available resources to ... propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns" in February.

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The Justice Department estimates there are "tens of thousands" of bump stocks in the United States.

The regulation signed by Whitaker is expected to be formally published by the end of this week and those who currently possess bump stocks will then have 90 days to turn them into ATF or destroy them.

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