As Nevadans observe the anniversary of the deadliest shooting in modern-American history, U.S. Sen. Dean Heller is blaming the Obama administration for failing to outlaw bump stocks, the firearm modification device used by Stephen Paddock to turn his rifles into automatic weapons.
In a news release, Heller said “… I applaud the Trump Administration’s Department of Justice for working to overturn this Obama-era regulation, and I am encouraged that a rule permanently banning the sale of bump stock devices is almost finalized.”
President Trump has also laid the bump stock debacle at Obama’s feet, tweeting on March 23 of this year:
Obama Administration legalized bump stocks. BAD IDEA. As I promised, today the Department of Justice will issue the rule banning BUMP STOCKS with a mandated comment period. We will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2018
But a document obtained by BuzzFeed reveals the Trump administration approved a bump stock device just six months before the Las Vegas shooting.
On October 1, 2017, Paddock opened fire out of his Mandalay Bay suite at the concert crowd across Las Vegas Boulevard, killing 58 and injuring more than 800.
The comment period for the rule ended in June. More than 95,000 comments are filed with the government.
The debate over bump stocks raged long before Barack Obama became president.
The federal government’s history of the rule says “In 2006, ATF concluded that certain bump-stock-type devices qualified as machineguns… Between 2008 and 2017, however, ATF also issued classification decisions concluding that other bump-stock-type devices were not machineguns, including a device submitted by the manufacturer of the bump-stock-type devices used in the Las Vegas shooting.”
For Heller, a self-described “unwavering advocate for our Second Amendment,” interest in banning bump stocks runs counter to his previous pro-gun positions.
A rule finalized by President Obama in 2016 set up a process allowing the Social Security Administration to help identify recipients who are prohibited from possessing guns because of mental illness. Heller later voted to repeal the rule, which he has termed a “gun grab.”