Headlines are blaring: “Trump moves to ban bump stocks,” and gun enthusiasts are wasting no time stockpiling for the apocalypse. Slide Fire, the primary manufacturer of the accessory that effectively turns a semi-automatic weapon into a machine gun, has been hit with a flood of traffic and its website is currently down.
Following the murder of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida by a lone gunman carrying a high-powered assault rifle, the Trump administration has offered little comfort and few solutions for the country going forward. Over the weekend, he used the shooting victims as a human shield to create some sort of doubt about the FBI’s Russia investigation, and his staff characterized the tragedy as a “reprieve” from the bad publicity they’d faced over the last week. But as the student survivors have chosen to voice their support for gun control and criticize Trump’s lack of action, he’s apparently now feeling the pressure to at least give the illusion that he takes the situation seriously.
On Tuesday, Trump claimed that he sent a memo to the Justice Department “directing the attorney general to propose regulations that ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns.”
While there are a number of legal devices on the market that can make a semi-automatic weapon act as if it were fully-automatic, “bump fire stocks” are the most well known. These devices replace the stock on a gun and simulate automatic fire rates with a sliding mechanism that takes advantage of the gun’s natural recoil. The shooter keeps their finger in place and lets the motion of the gun do the pulling.
You might recall that bump stocks were a big topic following the shooting in Las Vegas last October that left 58 people dead and 851 others injured. Even conservative lawmakers like Paul Ryan seemed open to a ban on bump stocks. The NRA called for the ATF to “review whether these devices comply with federal law.” They do comply with current US law, and—as the NRA acknowledged in its statement— the ATF has confirmed this twice before. Lawmakers and gun organizations successfully deflected and nothing has been done.
Now we’re onto a new mass shooting, but this one didn’t involve bump stocks. But that old ban people wanted? Well, it’s suddenly back in the news. And the ceaselessly terrified crowd that hoards guns every time it hears the phrase “background check” is bombarding Slide Fire’s site to get its hands on the apparently soon-to-be-banned device. Considering that Slide Fire was just running a President’s Day promotion with the coupon code “MAGA,” it seems safe to say that this time the push for a ban will be as real as the last one.