The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday announced a final rule banning the gun accessories known as “bump stocks,” a move that may impact a Columbus lawsuit.
The devices, which allow semiautomatic weapons to shoot like automatic weapons, were used in the 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting. Under the new federal rules, bump stocks will be considered “machine guns,” and owners will have 90 days to destroy or turn in their devices.
"Classifying bump stocks as machine guns is a major step forward in the fight against gun violence. But there is still more work to be done towards keeping America’s cities like Columbus safe and prosperous," said Columbus Council president Shannon Hardin in an emailed statement.
Columbus City Attorney Zack Klein also applauded the ban.
“I'm certainly not an unabashed critic of the president, but credit is due when a good initiative comes out, and a common-sense initiative like banning bump stocks nationwide is a positive step,” Klein said.
Last May, Columbus passed a slew of gun ordinances that included a ban on bump stocks within city limits. Ohioans for Concealed Carry and the Buckeye Firearms Association filed a lawsuit in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, and a judge ruled the city ban unconstitutional in July.
Klein says he’s reviewing the new rules to see how they might apply to Columbus.
“We're still evaluating how this particular move by Washington affects our own ordinances and our own litigation,” Klein said. “We'll review that and make a decision internally. But overall, it's a positive step and win for common sense safety measures.”
When the city approved the gun ordinances, Klein argued the changes didn’t violate state law, which prevents municipalities from passing gun control laws stricter than the state’s. The judge disagreed, saying Ohio law also prohibited restrictions on gun accessories.
Columbus has an appeal of the decision currently pending in the 10th District Court of Appeals. Klein says the federal changes “helps bolster our argument that bump stocks can and should be regulated to make our communities safer.”
A similar ban was blocked from going into effect in Cincinnati.