December 04, 2018 06:37 PM
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives in Washington, D.C. declined to comment on a memo, obtained by KSTP on Monday, detailing a new federal ban on the sale and possession of bump stocks.
The memo, circulated by the Department of Justice, is being sent to law enforcement agencies and gun shops with a federal firearms license. The ban requires owners to destroy or surrender bump stocks to authorities within 90 days of the rule going into effect. The memo doesn't say when that could happen, but a spokesperson for the ATF says the agency is still considering more than 100,000 public comments on the topic.
Bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly, have been the focus of debate since one was used in the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and injured hundreds of others.
Some gun control advocates say a federal ban of bump stocks would be a step in the right direction, but others question how much the rule would improve public safety because there are other methods to achieve the same rapid-fire effect.
"Bump fire is a technique, not a technology," said Rob Doar, political director for Minnesota Gun Owners Caucus. "Even the technique was kind of a novelty. A lot of gun owners kind of think bump stocks are dumb and it wasn't something they were going to go to the mat over."
Doar said his organization didn't lobby against a proposed bump stock ban in the Minnesota House of Representatives because the bill never made it out of committee.
A similar bill in the Wisconsin legislature also failed to gain traction, but even one of its authors, State Rep. Lisa Subeck, says a federal ban will have to come with sufficient enforcement and education.
"What will the DOJ do to insure people know [bump stocks] are banned? Are people getting the word?" asked Subeck.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS found some states that have specific bump stock bans have seen few people surrender the devices or none at all. At last check, the Vermont Department of Public Safety says it has received 2 bump stocks since the state enacted a ban earlier this year.
"People will comply with the law – they won't buy them, but you'll see people aren't going to turn them in. Now they may be destroying them or they may be burying them in a hole in the backyard, but again, public safety isn't going to be affected either way," said Doar.
Other groups such as Protect Minnesota say they welcome a federal ban on bump stocks that would classify weapons with bump stocks as "machine guns."
"We need to give tools to law enforcement," said Rev. Nancy Nord-Bence, Executive Director of Protect Minnesota.
"We have to stop acting like gun laws aren't like every other law and if they don't completely work, we're not going to have them," said Nord-Bence.