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We can't wait to act

Dear Friend,

After hundreds of Americans had gunfire rain down on them at a Las Vegas music festival in 2017, I led the effort to ban bump stocks – the device that allowed the gunman to murder and injure so many people, so quickly. Even former President Trump agreed then, heeding my calls to ban bump stocks in a federal rule. 

Now, the out of touch Supreme Court majority have made bump stocks legal again with an illogical and deadly ruling. The only way to ban these deadly devices once and for all is for Congress to pass my legislation: the Banning Unlawful Machinegun Parts (BUMP) Act.

I hope you can take a moment to read and share the Santa Fe New Mexican Editorial below on why passing the BUMP Act is so urgently important.

BUMP Act Floor

VIDEO: U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich speaks on the Senate Floor about his legislation, the Banning Unlawful Machinegun Parts (BUMP) Act, June 18, 2024.

There is NO legitimate use for a bump stock. Not for self-defense. Not for law enforcement. Not even in military applications, as they are less accurate than a standard fully automatic military platform. Bump stocks are tailor-made for mass shootings. We should ban them.


United States Senator

Banning bump stocks shouldn't be this hard

The New Mexican

June 20, 2024

The 1934 National Firearms Act — passed by Congress and signed into law — was designed to severely limit the availability of weapons that killed quickly, including machine guns, short-barreled rifles and other weapons of choice of Prohibition-era criminals. 

The intent of Congress was clear. Except to our Supreme Court, which recently threw out a modern ban on bump stocks — a device that essentially turns a semi-automatic weapon into a machine gun, the same weapon Congress sought to limit severely in 1934. 

No liberal gun haters instituted the regulatory ban, either. The ban on bump stocks was put in place by the administration of Donald Trump, president at the time of one of the most horrific mass shootings in the United States. Using bump stocks to make his guns far deadlier, a shooter killed 58 people — two more died later of their wounds — at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, Nev., in 2017. This horrific loss of life led to the bump stock ban, now overturned by the Supreme Court. 

Justice Samuel Alito basically told Congress in the 6-3 ruling: If you don’t like bump stocks, ban them. Pass a law. He wrote: “There is a simple remedy for the disparate treatment of bump stocks and machine guns. Congress can amend the law — and perhaps would have done so already if ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] had stuck with its earlier interpretation. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act.” 

Of course, Congress can’t pass much of anything. 

After the massacre, Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., led an effort to restrict bump stocks, introducing multiple bills to ban the devices. It made little progress. But with the court striking down the ban — one that polling shows has 80% support — the latest version of Heinrich’s bill, Banning Unlawful Machinegun Parts, came to the Senate floor this week for a vote. 

Just as it had stalled over the years since the mass shooting, the bill once again was blocked, this time by Republican Sen. Pete Ricketts of Nebraska. His objection blocked an immediate vote on the bill. This latest piece of legislation, introduced last year in June, was bipartisan, cosponsored by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada, and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. 

We commend Heinrich for his doggedness in attempting to make the lives of Americans safer. A hunter, Heinrich supports the rights of Americans to own and use guns. But he understands that altering weapons to make them lethal enough to kill dozens in a matter of minutes has little to do with the rights of law-abiding citizens. What’s next? The right of every home to be equipped with rocket launchers? 

Every right in the Bill of Rights has limits. And one of those limits should be on accessories that allow a gun owner to alter a weapon so it works like an automatic weapon. The majority opinion, written by Justice Clarence Thomas, leaned on technical descriptions of trigger functions to justify throwing out the ban, concluding that a semi-automatic gun with a bump stock is not equivalent to a machine gun.

We prefer Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent: “When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck.” 

She continued: “The majority’s logic simply does not overcome the overwhelming textual and contextual evidence that ‘single function of the trigger’ means a single action by the shooter to initiate a firing sequence, including pulling a trigger and pushing forward on a bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle. The majority’s artificially narrow definition hamstrings the government’s efforts to keep machine guns from gunmen like the Las Vegas shooter. I respectfully dissent.” 

Congress, pass a law.