The NRA’s position is also subject to misinterpretation. In its statement, the powerful gun lobby put the onus on the Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms—not Congress—to immediately review whether bump stocks comply with federal law. And in an appearance Thursday night on Fox News, NRA President Wayne LaPierre made clear that the organization supported “additional regulation” of bump stocks, not an outright ban.
Some Republicans, including White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, have pointed to decisions made by the ATF during the Obama administration that allowed for the legal sale of bump stocks. But a bureau spokesman said in an email Friday that ATF does not approve the devices; it merely determines what classification they fall under—a firearm, a part, a silencer, and so on. The ATF in 2010 determined that bump stocks are an attachment to a gun that replaces its grip and suppresses its recoil, but doesn’t on its own cause the gun to fire automatically. As such, the bureau said they were not subject to regulation under either the Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.