Gillibrand Gets ‘Pants on Fire’ Rating for Claim Trump Didn’t Ban Bump Stocks

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D., N.Y.) received a "Pants on Fire" rating from PolitiFact Thursday for falsely claiming the Trump administration hadn't enacted a promised bump-stock ban.

Gillibrand declared at a town hall Sunday that President Donald Trump had failed to keep a promise to disallow bump stocks, which were used by the perpetrator of the Las Vegas massacre on Oct. 1, 2017. However, they have been illegal in the U.S. since March. Bump stocks modify semi-automatic rifles to make it easier to pull the trigger more quickly.

On Fox News, Gillibrand portrayed Trump as too afraid to challenge the National Rifle Association on the issue.

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"Remember after the shooting in Las Vegas, he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, we’re going to ban the bump stocks.' Did he ban the bump stocks?" she asked. "No, because the NRA came crashing down and said, ‘Don't you dare do any restrictions on our guns around this country.'"

However, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosive reviewed whether they should be banned two months after the Vegas shooting, and Trump signed a memorandum on Feb. 20, 2018, directing the Justice Department to propose regulations that banned bump stocks. Although bump stocks do not simulate true automatic fire—where pulling the trigger results in firing multiple rounds—then-acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker announced in December a new policy that bump stocks fell "within the definition of ‘machine gun' under federal law."

The ban went into effect in March after a failed court challenge. Possessing a bump stock is now a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Gillibrand campaign press secretary Evan Lukaske claimed the 2020 candidate was referring to the NRA's opposition to legislation on bump stocks and the 10-month lag time between Trump's memorandum and the Justice Department's new regulations.

"Sen. Gillibrand acknowledges that five months after the Las Vegas shooting, President Trump issued a ban that was enacted in December 2018, much to the NRA's chagrin," Lukaske said. "Her statement supports the larger point, that the NRA uses money and influence to control members of the Republican Party, and prevent common sense gun reforms that the vast majority of Americans and gun owners support."

PolitiFact didn't buy it, however, writing, "Such concerns, however, do not get at the point of her town hall remark. She left the strong impression that bump stocks are still legal, and that Trump went back on his word. Both assertions are flatly incorrect."

Gillibrand is calling for aggressive gun control reforms in her presidential campaign and has called the NRA the "worst organization in this country." She had an "A" rating from the group when in the House of Representatives but did a rapid about-face when she reached the U.S. Senate.