Initial Bid to Ban Bump Stocks Fails in Senate

AP Photo/Steve Helber

As expected, Republicans have turned away an attempt by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to ban the sale and possession of bump stocks via unanimous consent, but don't expect the issue to fade away anytime soon. 


Tuesday's vote was destined to defeat even before the motion to adopt Sen. Martin Heinrich's BUMP Act was formally introduced. South Carolina's Lindsey Graham had publicly stated he would vote to deny unanimous consent, but it was actually Nebraska Sen. Pete Ricketts who first objected when the legislation was brought up on the floor. 

Ricketts said the proposed measure goes beyond a simple ban on bump stocks and would enable the federal government to target common firearm accessories, not just bump stocks.

"If Democrats really cared about gun violence, they'd be trying to build support for a bill that can actually pass," Ricketts said. "Instead, we have a show vote on a bill that uses vague language to ban as many firearms accessories as possible."

Ricketts said disabled and elderly Americans who rely on bump stocks and other accessories to enable them to use firearms would be deprived of their Second Amendment rights.

Let's be honest here: Democrats don't care if their laws impact disabled and elderly Americans (or any other group of lawful gun owners). And Ricketts is absolutely correct that the BUMP Act isn't limited to bump stocks alone. The bill prohibits the sale and possession of any "manual, power-driven, or electronic device" that "materially increases the rate of fire", along with any semi-automatic firearm modified in any way to increase the rate of fire or "approximates the action or rate of fire of a machinegun."


That language is so broad and vague it sounds like it was drafted by the ATF, which has already been smacked down from the Supreme Court and various appellate courts for their fuzzy rules on pistol braces, unfinished frames and receivers, and who is "engaged in the business" of dealing firearms. 

But Tuesday's vote wasn't just about banning bump stocks. It was also an attempt to put Republicans on the defensive over the ban, and Schumer and other Democrats are likely to bring up the bill again (at least in speeches) so long as they believe it's paying political dividends

Democrats said they had hoped the fact that the ban was initiated in 2019 during the Trump administration and had the backing of many Republicans at the time would be enough to persuade the G.O.P. to join Democrats in putting it back in place. But they were aware that was unlikely, and said Republicans would pay a political price if they refused to go along. 

“I implore — I implore — my Republican colleagues not to stand in the way of today’s bill, because if we can pass it today, we’ll be one step closer to ensuring that a tragedy like what happened in Las Vegas never happens again,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader. “But if Republicans get in the way today, if they decide to side with the gun lobby instead of parents and teachers and law enforcement, they are asking for another tragedy to strike sooner or later.”


That's basically Schumer's stump speech on any gun control bill that comes up in the Senate. If you don't support whatever Democrats are demanding, you're essentially responsible for whatever awful act committed by an amoral monster. Schumer's rhetoric isn't designed to persuade his colleagues but to provide the media with a juicy soundbite, and I guess he accomplished that mission... even if the vote itself was doomed to defeat. 

Join the conversation as a VIP Member