South Carolina’s junior U.S. Sen. Tim Scott was among a group of lawmakers who asked a federal agency last week to take a look at “bump stocks,” a gun modification device which allows a semiautomatic weapon to fire in a similar manner as an automatic one.
Investigators say the Las Vegas gunman used rifles modified with bump stocks to rapidly fire his weapons and kill nearly 60 concertgoers earlier this month. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms first approved the device in 2010.
Also known by the brand name “Slide Fire,” the stocks can mimic machine guns or automatic weapons, whose sales to private citizens are banned in most circumstances. Legal semi-automatic guns require a shooter physically pull the trigger for each shot fired. But when a bump stock is attached, it allows the gun’s recoil to push the trigger back into position after a shot, effectively allowing a shooter to hold the trigger down and continue firing.
The letter sent Friday from U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-NV, is similar to similar separate requests from Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the National Rifle Association since the Las Vegas shootings.
“It appears to be from Sen. Heller, to Sen. Feinstein, to the NRA to other groups, everybody wants the attention on the bump stocks,” Scott told Greenwood affiliate WCRS. “And we’re going to spend a lot of energy and focus on bump stocks for the next several weeks.”
The device was marketed to ATF as a way for those with disabilities be able to more easily fire their weapon.
“Given the function and capability of a semi-automatic rifle that is modified by a bump stock, we respectfully request that you review the Obama administration’s interpretation and issue your own interpretation,” the letter to the ATF’s acting director Thomas Brandon stated. “Unfortunately, we are all now keenly aware of how this device operates and believe that this renewed review and determination will keep our citizens safe and ensure that federal law is enforced.”
Among the other eight Republicans who signed the letter are Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-TX.