Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act garners 175th House sponsor

A Slide Fire bump stock in action. (Photo: Slide Fire/Facebook)

A Slide Fire bump stock in action. (Photo: Slide Fire/Facebook)

A measure to ban bump fire stocks and a host of other accessories has picked up the support of most of the Democrats in the House in less than a month but could end up in limbo.

Introduced on Oct. 4 by Rhode Island Democrat U.S. Rep. David Cicilline as H.R.3947, the prohibition on devices meant to up the rate of fire on guns without transforming them into machine guns by Friday had the support of 175 of the 194 Dems in the chamber. However, there have been no defections from across the aisle to join the legislation, with a dozen of House Republicans instead moving to sign on to a similar bipartisan ban, H.R. 3999.

Cicilline holds that the restrictions he is backing take aim at devices that no one needs.

“No person should possess a device that turns a semi-automatic rifle into the equivalent of a machine gun,” said Cicilline. “The sole purpose of these devices is to fire as many bullets as possible as quickly as possible.”

Cicilline’s measure would ban the devices as well as “trigger cranks” and any device, attachment, or accessory that accelerates the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle but falls short of the legal definition of a machine gun.

Approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in 2010, the bump fire stock marketed by Slide Fire is pitched to increase firearms accessibility for those with limited mobility among other uses. With the National Rifle Association backing a regulatory review of the devices rather than a legislative fix, those familiar with the original decision support the existing classification while some in the agency have reportedly signaled the regulator would prefer lawmakers get involved should they desire a change. An association representing current and former ATF employees has meanwhile pushed back saying the agency “does not have the legal authority to regulate” bump stocks.

With the Cicilline’s bill referred to the Republican-controlled Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, it would need a mark up from that body to move to the House floor and Speaker Paul Ryan’s blessing for a vote on the matter, an option that is increasingly unlikely with Ryan tepid on the devices but favoring a regulatory fix instead.

In terms of Congressional math, should Cicilline’s measure make it to the floor and chalk up all the chamber’s Dems as well as the 12 Republicans currently pledged to the bipartisan push,  it would still fall at least 20 votes short of a majority.

In the Senate, a similar push backed by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has 39 Democrats and Independents signed on but, like H.R.3947, has zero bipartisan support and no hearings scheduled.