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Senators Try and Fail to Pass Bump Stock Ban Law With Unanimous Consent

The U.S. Capitol Building. (Dreamstime/TNS)
June 19, 2024

Gun control proponents tried and failed on Tuesday in their first attempt at legislatively banning bump stocks after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a rule by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) that previously banned the firearm devices.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 the ATF’s rule treating bump stocks like illegal machinegun parts overstepped their rulemaking authority. The high court’s ruling now leaves gun control proponents hoping to ban the devices to pursue the legislative route.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), on Tuesday, June 18, reintroduced a bill dubbed the “Banning Unlawful Machinegun Parts Act” or BUMP Act. The bill would prohibit the sale of bump stocks and any other device that “materially increases the rate of fire” of a semi-automatic firearm. The legislation creates a carveout for gun owners to keep semi-automatic firearms that have been reconfigured with a device meant to increase its rate of fire, but those owners must register those modified semiautomatic firearms under the National Firearms Act within 120 days of the bill’s enactment.

Many other gun-control proponents began pushing for a bump stock ban after federal authorities concluded a single shooter carried out the Oct. 1, 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada using multiple firearms equipped with bump stocks.

Heinrich touted bipartisan support for his bill, noting buy-in from more than 20 other Senators, including a single Republican; Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

“This is something that nearly all Americans agree should be done,” Heinrich said on Tuesday. “This should be a common sense, bipartisan, public safety vote that all of us should welcome if we believe that our kids should have the freedom to feel safe in their church, classroom, or at a movie theater.”

Introducing his bill on the Senate floor, the New Mexico Democrat echoed arguments by Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her dissenting opinion in Garland v. Cargill. While the court’s majority concluded there were key differences between bump-fired semiautomatic firearms and machineguns, Sotomayor said, “When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck,” and the same reasoning should apply for treating a bump stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle like a machinegun.

Heinrich sought a unanimous consent vote on his BUMP Act bill, but Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) rose in objection, halting the effort. Ricketts said the bill’s language around a device that “materially increases the rate of fire” is written too vaguely.

“Either this rate of fire section was written by someone who had no idea what they’re talking about or it’s a cynical attempt to include more firearm accessories than just bump stocks. I would bet the latter,” Ricketts said.

Without unanimous consent, the BUMP Act’s supporters will now have to pursue its Senate passage through a recorded vote. While the bill may garner enough support to pass in the Democrat-controlled Senate, it faces tougher odds in the Republican-controlled House.

This article was originally published by FreeBase News and is reprinted with permission.