Ban on bump stocks: Georgians divided over Trump’s ruling

After 58 people were killed in an October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, President Donald Trump vowed to ban the device that contributed: Bump stocks. When added to semi-automatic weapons, bump stocks enable such guns to fire rapidly, similar to fully automatic firearms.

On Tuesday, Trump followed through with his pledge. His administration outlawed the devices.

In Georgia, reaction was sharply divided among gun rights advocates and those seeking to restrict gun access.

“I’m delighted that I can say that President Trump did something that makes me happy,” state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

» RELATED: Trump administration moves to officially ban bump stocks

Oliver introduced a bill in the Georgia Legislature in January, but it didn’t move forward. Some legislators thought it was unnecessary to pass a state law if federal regulation was in the works, she said.

“I think there was universal agreement that bump stocks made absolutely no sense,” Oliver said.

The gunman in the Las Vegas massacre, Stephen Paddock, fired for more than 10 minutes using multiple weapons outfitted with target scopes and bump stocks, according to police. Then he fatally shot himself.

After the shooting, investigators found 23 assault-style weapons, including 14 fitted with bump stocks, strewn about the room near Paddock’s body in a suite at the Mandalay Bay casino-hotel.

In November 2017, Massachusetts became the first state after the shooting in Las Vegas to pass a law barring bump stocks. Since then, 10 more states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington — have followed suit, according to the nonprofit group Everytown for Gun Safety.

Credit: George Frey

Credit: George Frey

But gun rights advocates say banning bump stocks isn’t necessary and won’t stop someone determined to cause violence.

“When you start banning accessories to firearms, then you really get on a slippery slope,” said Jerry Henry, executive director of Georgia Carry. “It doesn’t change the function of the firearm, and therefore it shouldn’t be banned.”

Henry said he anticipates federal lawsuits challenging the ban. And though he doesn’t own a bump stock, Henry supports gun owners’ rights to own them.

“It will not save one life,” he said. “If I want to go into a school, I can do the same thing with an AR-15.”

Although the gunman who shot and killed 17 at a Florida high school in February did not use a bump stock, the mass shooting again sparked debate over the devices. Henry said pistols are used most often in school shootings.

Army veteran Ben Bryant, a volunteer coordinator with the NRA Georgia chapter, said stopping gun violence is a priority. But banning bump stocks isn’t the way to do it, and Bryant called the ban “more fluff than substance.”

“He may ban bump stocks,” Bryant said. “But there’s another piece out there called the ‘echo trigger’ that allows you to fire at the same rate as the bump stocks. Technology is fast outpacing these laws that we’re putting into effect.”

The regulation, which was signed by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on Tuesday morning, will go into effect 90 days after it is formally published in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen on Friday, the Justice Department said.

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.