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#JewsDemandAction: Urge the ATF to Ban Bump Stocks.

#JewsDemandAction: Urge the ATF to Ban Bump Stocks.

Young students at the March for Our Lives, holding signs that spell "ENOUGH"

 

Gun violence prevention is a Jewish issue.  

Leviticus 19:16 instructs us, “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” For too long, our government has stood idly by, shooting after shooting, refusing to take action to prevent the next massacre from happening. Bump stock devices have no place in our society and must be banned.

What's a bump stock?

Following the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in in Parkland, Florida, earlier this year, Attorney General Sessions announced that the Department of Justice would propose a regulation to effectively ban “bump fire stocks” like the ones used in the Las Vegas massacre. Bump stocks harness the recoil of a semiautomatic rifle to enable a shooter to fire shots much more quickly than if they were simply squeezing the trigger on a firearm not altered with a bump stock. Despite their role in converting semiautomatic weapons into devices that operate in the same way as automatic rifles, these newer devices are not currently regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

Under current federal law, fully automatic firearms, also known as “machineguns,” are heavily regulated under the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the National Firearms Act of 1934. Although machineguns are extremely difficult to obtain, the gun industry has started to market conversion devices known as bump fire stocks (bump stocks) that intentionally or otherwise circumvent federal law by allowing gun owners to modify semiautomatic rifles so that they fire at a similar rate as fully automatic rifles. 

It is with these bump stock devices that the shooter in Las Vegas was able to commit the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. With his bump stocks, the shooter was able to fire 90 shots in 10 seconds and more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition in just 11 minutes, murdering 58 people and injuring more than 500 people.

Ultimately, legislative action to ban these devices would be more effective than regulatory action by administration, especially given the expected legal challenges that will delay its taking effect. However, the Department of Justice has continued to pursue an administrative approach, giving us the opportunity to weigh in on the issue through a public comment period. 

How can I take action?

The Department of Justice and the ATF are accepting comments on this proposed rule from the public until June 27. It vital for them to hear from supporters of the bump stock ban.
To submit a public comment to ATF, use the form provided by the Federal Register. To do so:

  1. Finalize your comment. Please find a sample comment below that you can copy and paste to submit. Feel free to personalize your comment as well. Why do you care about gun violence prevention?
  2. Once your comment is final, go to https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=ATF-2018-0002-0001
  3. Paste your comment into the top box on the page.
  4. Fill in the required contact information – your name, address, and state.
  5. Press the blue “Continue” button the bottom of the page.
  6. Check to make sure that your comment and contact information are correct. Make sure to click the box at the bottom indicating that you understand that your comment will be public.
  7. Press the “Submit Comment” button the bottom right the page.
  8. Let us know that you submitted a comment by filling out this form! We want to be able to count you in the Reform Movement’s gun violence prevention efforts.

Sample comment:

As an American and a Reform Jew, I am writing to express my support for the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Bureau (ATF) proposed rule (Docket ID No. ATF 2017R-22) clarifying that bump fire stocks, along with other “conversion devices” that enable semiautomatic weapons to mimic automatic fire, qualify as “machineguns” under the National Firearms Act and are generally illegal to possess.

Jewish tradition emphasizes the sanctity and primary value of human life. Our tradition guides my belief that dangerous devices like bump stocks, which threaten the safety of innocent Americans, should be banned. Leviticus 19:16 commands us, “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed,” a scriptural instruction which reminds us that inaction is unacceptable. Further, we are inspired by the Talmud that teaches us about our absolute obligation to prevent the loss of innocent life, noting that “he who takes one life, it is as though he has destroyed the universe, and he who saves one life, it is as though he has saved the universe” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5).

Bump stocks and similar devices that accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic firearm are extremely dangerous and pose a substantial risk to public safety. Bump stocks harness the recoil of a semiautomatic rifle to enable a shooter to fire shots much more quickly than if they were simply squeezing the trigger on a firearm not altered with a bump stock. It is with these bump stock devices that the shooter in Las Vegas was able to commit the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. With his bump stocks, the shooter was able to fire 90 shots in 10 seconds and more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition in just 11 minutes, murdering 58 people and injuring more than 500 people. These devices threaten the safety of our communities and must be regulated to help prevent further atrocities. Despite their role in converting legally purchased semiautomatic weapons into devices that operate in the same way as automatic rifles, these newer devices are not currently regulated by the ATF.

In the absence of immediate action by Congress, ATF should finalize its proposed rule, clarifying that conversion devices like bump fire stocks are included in the definition of “machinegun” under the National Firearms Act of 1934. Without regulation, these dangerous devices will continue to pose a threat to Americans nationwide.

For more information, contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Matt Fidel at (202) 387-2800 or visit the RAC's Gun Violence Prevention issue page

Published: 6/12/2018