WASHINGTON (AP) – House Speaker Paul Ryan says bump stocks — devices that can effectively turn semi-automatic rifles into fully automated weapons — should be addressed through a regulatory change.
The devices have drawn attention because they were found among the arsenal of the killer in the Las Vegas massacre.
Bi-partisan legislation has been introduced in the House and Senate to ban their use. But Ryan says addressing the issue by regulation instead would be "the smartest, quickest fix."
He also questioned why the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives approved the use of bump stocks in the first place. That happened under the Obama administration.
Bump stocks can fit onto semi-automatic rifles and allow them to fire much more quickly, mimicking fire from fully automatic weapons — which are illegal.
Bump stocks have been around for two decades, but federal regulators have flip-flopped about whether some versions are legal.
Bill Akins was the first person to file a patent for an attachment to a rifle stock that allows the recoil to rapidly depress the trigger and shoot faster.
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives initially let Akins sell his device. Then it ruled that the attachment illegally converted regular guns to machine guns.
The agency has found that current bump stocks on the market only speed the triggering of a gun rather than convert it to shoot multiple bullets per pull - and therefore are legal.
The National Rifle Association gas called for the ATF to review whether bump stocks comply with federal laws.
Gun control advocates, Democrats and some Republican members of Congress have called for a law to ban them.