Montana – -(AmmoLand.com)- News headlines say that the BATFE has banned “bump stocks.” What are bump stocks and what does this mean?
First, a bump stock is a device that helps the trigger of a semi-auto rifle to reset. It uses the recoil of the rifle, such as an AR-15, to move the trigger forward upon discharge so that steady pressure on the trigger will cause the trigger to move back and forth for repeated discharges. This same effect can also be accomplished by holding a semi-auto rifle just right with no attached device, or with a rubber band that pulls the trigger forward.
Frankly, I think bump stocks are just a way to turn money into noise, but, hey, some people like noise. Bump stocks are just an accessory, not an actual firearm.
However, the new BATFE ruling determines that bump stocks are essentially machine guns. This means that to possess one lawfully it must be registered with the BATFE, and a $200 tax must be paid. To possess a bump stock without having paid the tax, which takes about nine months, will be a felony crime if the possessor is caught and prosecuted. The BATFE advises that people possessing bump stocks destroy them using one of several approved methods.
There's lots of chatter out there about the legal problems with the bump stock ban, including conflict with the Second Amendment, taking of private property without compensation, and more. Gun Owners of America announces that it will soon file suit to challenge the bump stock ban. The NRA first encouraged President Trump and the BATFE to come up with a ruling about bump stocks, but now says it is “disappointed” in the ruling.
The new BATFE rule goes into effect 90 days after it is published in the Federal Register. I don't know when that will be, but a current (12/19/18) search of the Federal Register shows that the rule has not been published yet.
What to do? If you possess a bump stock, you have at least 90 days to think about this before they become illegal (or taxed). At this point, I don't know whether to recommend compliance or outright civil disobedience. Probably just wait and see. One federal lawsuit has already been filed, including a request for a restraining order to prevent enforcement of the new rule until the matter is litigated. Other lawsuits will probably be filed soon.
Bottom line? No action is urgently needed. Montana Shooting Sports Association finds the BATFE action and rules repugnant for a variety of reasons. Montana Shooting Sports Association will probably be involved in some federal lawsuit over this, maybe joining one of the ones already in the works, or conceivably with its lawsuit. If you own a bump stock and are willing to be involved in whatever legal action Montana Shooting Sports Association may pursue, let me know.
About Montana Shooting Sports Association:
Montana Shooting Sports Association ( MSSA ) is the primary political advocate for Montana gun owners.