WASHINGTON, DC - Any change to gun laws in America typically elicits furious reactions for or against the move but when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives ban on bump stocks went into effect last month, even the NRA didn’t put up much of a fight.
“This is a regulation issued by the Trump administration. This is completely different than a piece of legislation passed by Congress or a Supreme Court case,” said Justin Hansford.
Bump stocks allow semi-automatic rifles to essentially function like fully-automatics.
Hansford who teaches civil rights law at Howard University's law school believes there wasn't much uproar because there's long been concern about automatic weapons. The ban gained widespread support after the device was used in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting but Hansford says don’t expect any additional regulations.
“I think outside of military uses, people realized there's no need for automatic weapons in terms of self-defense. Now since 1986, there has been a shift in our constitutional law where the possession of hand guns has been recognized as a Second Amendment right, that was something Justice Scalia paved the way on in DC vs. Heller and in subsequent cases that's been affirmed,” said Hansford.
Libertarians like Congressman Thomas Massie describe the bump stock ban as unconstitutional. He believes it could lead to other firearms and accessories being outlawed. Hansford says that’s possible.
“It’s a very good strategy to protest these agency actions because you can get a quick win but it’s also a very risky strategy because as soon as there is a new Presidential administration that takes office, they’ll switch 180 degrees at the snap of a finger,” said Hansford.
Meanwhile, a Texas-based gun accessory company is suing the government for compensation after surrendering its bump stocks. Hansford says the lawsuit could slow down or halt the regulation -- but it's unlikely.