Sanders Joins Feinstein, Blumenthal to Introduce Bill to Close Automatic Weapon Loophole

WASHINGTON, Oct. 4 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) joined Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) at a press conference Wednesday to introduce the Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act, a bill to close a loophole that allows semi-automatic weapons to be easily modified to fire at the rate of automatic weapons, which have been illegal for more than 30 years. 

“While it is too late for the victims in Las Vegas, and the victims in Newtown, and the victims in Charleston and the other terrible shootings that we have seen, it is not too late to prevent the next set of innocent Americans from becoming victims,” Sanders said. “Now is the time to save lives in this country. Now is the time to pass this legislation.”

In addition to Sens. Feinstein, Sanders and Blumenthal, cosponsors include Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).

Under the National Firearms Act, the sale, manufacture and transfer of automatic weapons are illegal. However, bump stocks, slide fire devices and other similar accessories are able to be attached to semi-automatic weapons, allowing them to reach fully-automatic rates of fire.

Semi-automatic rifles typically have a rate of fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute. A bump stock, or other similar device, increases the semi-automatic rifle's rate of fire between 400 and 800 rounds per minute. 

This bill would ban the sale, transfer, importation, manufacture or possession of bump stocks, trigger cranks and similar accessories that accelerate a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire. 

The bill also makes clear that its intent is to target only those accessories that increase a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire. Legitimate accessories used by hunters would be exempt. The bill also contains exceptions for lawful possession of these devices by law enforcement and the government.  

To read Sanders' statement, click here.