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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, October 12, 2017 1:00 am

Ryan turning to ATF for ban

Shies from action on bump stocks

Mike DeBonis | Washington Post

WASHINGTON – House Speaker Paul Ryan backed away Wednesday from legislative action to ban “bump stocks,” the device a mass shooter used in Las Vegas this month to create machine-gun-like rapid fire from his legal semiautomatic rifle, killing 58.

Instead, Ryan and many fellow House Republicans hope, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will act administratively to outlaw the devices, which the agency previously ruled to be legal in 2010.

“We think the regulatory fix is the smartest, quickest fix, and then, frankly, we'd like to know how it happened in the first place,” Ryan, R-Wis., told reporters Wednesday. He did not discuss pursuing legislation to address the issue.

Ryan made his remarks a day after 20 bipartisan House members backed a bill to ban bump stocks.

The bill, led by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., and Seth Moulton, D-Mass., would make it illegal to manufacture, own or transfer any device that “is designed and functions to increase the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but does not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun.”

Fully automatic machine guns, which fire off multiple rounds with a single pull of the trigger, are much more tightly regulated than semiautomatic weapons under federal law, and guns of that type manufactured after 1986 are generally illegal to own.

While many gun-rights advocates in Congress have expressed a willingness to restrict bump stocks and similar devices, they are wary of taking action through legislation.