President Donald Trump speaks during a Medal of Valor ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 20, 2018, in Washington, D.C.
President Trump on Tuesday signed a memorandum directing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns.
Days after a deadly mass shooting at a Florida school, and months after a madman mowed down people at a Las Vegas concert, President Trump on Tuesday backed a ban on bump stock devices, a small step in the long journey toward sensible gun laws.
Images of Band-Aids popped up on social media after the President said his administration would take measures to outlaw an accessory that turns an already-deadly rifle into a machine-gun-mimicking killing machine.
Gunman Stephen Paddock, 64, used the rapid-fire bump stock device when he leaned out a window Oct. 1 and opened fire from his 32nd-floor perch at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino and executed 58 concertgoers at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
Bump stocks enable rifles to shoot hundreds of rounds a minute, and they help gun owners get around laws that ban fully automatic weapons.
“After the deadly shooting in Las Vegas, I directed the attorney general to clarify whether certain bump stock devices like the one used in Las Vegas are illegal under current law,” Trump said, referring to AG Jeff Sessions.
“I signed a memorandum directing the attorney general to propose regulations to ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns.”
Trump made the announcement during a White House ceremony honoring public safety officers.
The bump stock bulletin also came after a new poll signaled that at least one area of gun control is no longer up for debate. According to a Quinnipiac University poll, a full 97% of Americans agree that no firearms should be sold in the country without a universal background check.
The survey also said American voters support stricter gun laws, 66% to 31%. That is the highest level of support ever measured by the university.
“If you think Americans are largely unmoved by the mass shootings, you should think again,” said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll. “Support for stricter gun laws is up 19 points in little more than two years. In the last two months, some of the biggest surges in support for tightening gun laws come from demographic groups you may not expect, independent voters, men, and whites with no college degree.”
Even Trump himself jumped on the background check bandwagon.
“Whether we are Republican or Democrat, we must now focus on strengthening Background Checks!” Trump tweeted.
Conservative Christian Broadcasting Network founder Pat Robertson went even further, saying assault rifles should be outlawed.
“I’ve got no opposition whatsoever to shooting, but for heaven’s sakes, I don’t think that the general population needs to have automatic weapons,” Robertson, 87, said Tuesday on his show “The 700 Club.”
“It’s one thing to defend yourself with a pistol or a shotgun to hunt with, but it’s something else to have (assault weapons),” he added. “I think we can ban those things without too much trouble.”
Though months had passed without White House action on the issue, aides said Trump was moved by the latest deadly school shooting to tackle some form of gun control.
“The key in all of these efforts, as I said in my remarks, the day after this shooting is that we cannot merely take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference,” Trump said. “We must actually make a difference. We must move past cliches and debates and focus on evidence-based solutions and security measures that actually work. Make it easier for men and women of law enforcement to protect our children and protect our safety.”
Gun control groups greeted Trump’s announcement with caution.
“This sounds like a good initial step, but the devil is in the details, and it remains to be seen whether the Department of Justice will actually prohibit bump stocks, or if the White House is playing games,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety.
“Regardless, this action alone is not enough. Across America, students, educators, mothers and fathers are demanding that our leaders meet this moment with robust action to reduce gun violence. The White House and Congress need to do much more, starting with legislation to require criminal background checks on every gun sale.”
Brady Campaign co-president Avery Gardiner said legislation would also be the better route for a bump stock ban.
“If Trump is serious, he should be talking about legislation, not regulation,” Gardiner said. “Any regulatory effort is likely to take months and months and months and then be subject to challenges in the court.”
On the other side, National Rifle Association spokeswoman Jennifer Baker said the group needs more time to study the issue.
“The NRA cannot comment until an actual rule is published with specifics that we can review,” Baker said.
“Fully automatic weapons have been heavily regulated since the 1930s, but banning semi-automatic firearms and accessories has been shown time and again not to prevent criminal activity and simply punishes the law-abiding for the criminal acts of others.”
By Leonard Greene | New York Daily News