New York – -(AmmoLand.com)- The New ATF Rule: A Categorical Ban on Bump Stock Devices
In the Federal Register, 83 FR 13442, the DOJ, through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), has proposed a rule change to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), specifically, 27 CFR Parts 447, 478, and 479.
The proposed Rule, reads: “The Department of Justice (Department) proposes to amend the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives regulations to clarify that ‘bump fire’ stocks, slide-fire devices, and devices with certain similar characteristics (bump-stock-type devices) are “machine guns” as defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), because such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger. Specifically, these devices convert an otherwise semiautomatic firearm into a machine gun by functioning as a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism that harnesses the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm in a manner that allows the trigger to reset and continue firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter. Hence, a semiautomatic firearm to which a bump-stock-type device is attached is able to produce automatic fire with a single pull of the trigger. With limited exceptions, primarily as to government agencies, the GCA makes it unlawful for any person to transfer or possess a machine gun unless it was lawfully possessed prior to the effective date of the statute. The bump-stock-type devices covered by this proposed rule were not in existence prior to the GCA's effective date, and therefore would fall within the prohibition on machine guns if this Notice of Proposed Rule making (NPRM) is implemented. Consequently, current possessors of these devices would be required to surrender them, destroy them, or otherwise render them permanently inoperable upon the effective date of the final rule.”
The ATF has now finalized the proposed rule, amending the first sentence to read:
“The Department of Justice is amending the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). . . .”
As a final Agency Rule, it is ripe for judicial review, if challenged; and it is rightfully being challenged.
The ATF’s Assertion that Bump Stocks Convert Semiautomatic Rifles into Machine Guns is Both Logically and Legally Flawed.
The critical problem with the ATF Rule is this: bump stocks are not machine guns; nor are they accessories for machine guns; and saying they are machine guns, as the ATF categorically and brazenly does say, doesn’t make them so. The rule seemingly complies with federal Statute by iterating the critical point that “. . . such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.” But, the assertion is false, and the Rule must be struck down on that ground alone. The Rule is also a noxious affront to the natural, fundamental, and unalienable right etched in stone in the Second Amendment, and it cannot be allowed to stand without doing a serious disservice to the purport of our Nation’s Bill of Rights.
Without amnesty for those who lawfully possessed bump stock devices, prior to implementation of the new DOJ-ATF Rule, 83 FR 13442, a wholesale ban on bump stocks place those of us who possess the devices in clear legal jeopardy. Keep in mind the last line of the Rule:Consequently, current possessors of these devices would be required to surrender them, destroy them, or otherwise render them permanently inoperable upon the effective date of the final rule.” This retrospective application to existing lawful owners of bump stock devices is outrageous, and, apart from other serious Constitutional issues, 83 FR 13442 may also amount to a violation of Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which says clearly and succinctly: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” The Arbalest Quarrelwill look into a possible violation of Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3 in a future article.
A Little History on Bump Stocks
Let’s take a moment to reassess.
What is a ‘bump stock,’ really? Who invented it? How long has it been on the market? Why the uproar over it? Is it really the awful object that antigun zealots and the President, too, claim it is? And does a ban on bump stocks place those of us—millions of law-abiding American citizens. And, most importantly, does a ban on bump stocks place those of us who possess semiautomatic weapons, in legal jeopardy?
Who Invented the “Bump Stock?”
Four days, after the Las Vegas concert tragedy, The New York Times looked into this mechanical device called a “bump stock,” reporting, with typical tabloid flourish:
“Gun enthusiasts looking for an extra thrill have long found makeshift ways to replicate the exhilaration of using an automatic weapon — the thrill of the noise and the jolt of rapid-fire rounds — while bypassing the legal hassle and expense of getting one.
They contrived devices using pieces of wood, belt loops and sometimes even rubber bands, to mimic the speed of a fully automatic weapon — even if it meant sacrificing accuracy.
Then came Jeremiah Cottle with an answer. A Texas farm boy turned Air Force veteran, he figured he could do better. He sank $120,000 of his savings into the development of a high-end bump stock, a device that harnessed a rifle’s recoil to fire hundreds of rounds a minute.
He began selling bump stocks in 2010 with the help of his wife and grandparents in Moran, Tex., his small hometown of fewer than 300 residents. His company, Slide Fire Solutions, won approval from federal firearms regulators, and the business moved from a portable building that had once been a dog kennel into a much larger space on the Cottle family farm. Sales exceeded $10 million and 35,000 units in the first year.”
How Does a Bump Stock Operate? See the Video Above…
Antigun groups, along with the Press, provide their impressions of “bump stocks”—offering descriptions from the deceptive and simplistic to the florid and patently absurd.
Following up on the October 2017 story, the NY Times, on February 18, 2018 said this says about the device’s operation:
“A ‘bump stock’ replaces a rifle’s standard stock, which is the part held against the shoulder. It frees the weapon to slide back and forth rapidly, harnessing the energy from the kickback shooters feel when the weapon fires. The stock “bumps” back and forth between the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger, causing the rifle to rapidly fire again and again. The shooter holds his or her trigger finger in place, while maintaining forward pressure on the barrel and backward pressure on the pistol grip while firing.”
The NY Times' animation aptly illustrates that one shot, and one shot only, is fired through a single pull of the trigger. A successive pull of the trigger is required each time in order to initiate an additional shot.
The Progressive weblog “Trace,” says, “A bump stock is a foot-long piece of plastic capable of transforming a semiautomatic rifle into a weapon functionally indistinguishable from a machine gun. That means a gun fitted with a bump stock can fire up to 800 rounds per minute.”
The problem is that the expression, ‘machine gun.' is defined in federal statute by manner of operation, and not, as the weblog Trace, argues, by rate of fire. Antigun proponents do not, however, appear to concern themselves over, or allow themselves to be constrained by, niceties of law. They are only interested in political results.
Not to be outdone by the NY Times or by the weblog, Trace, Gabby Gifford’s antigun group chimed,
“In the absence of immediate action by Congress, I urge ATF to finalize its proposed rule clarifying that bump fire stocks, along with other “conversion devices” that enable semiautomatic weapons to mimic automatic fire, qualify as “machineguns” under the National Firearms Act. And then Congress must act as well—to ensure that manufacturers cannot continue to endanger public safety by designing devices that imitate machine guns and subvert the law. The continued presence of these dangerous devices puts all of our communities at risk, and both Congress and ATF must take action quickly to address this threat.”
These remarks by Gifford’s organization are purposely incendiary and patently ridiculous. Indeed, even the progressive website, “Vox,” citing an AP News report—albeit claiming that bump stocks offer a “way around the law [pertaining to machine guns]”—felt compelled to admit, albeit reluctantly, that bump stock modifications to semiautomatic rifles do not convert those rifles into machine guns.
“The device basically replaces the gun’s shoulder rest, with a “support step” that covers the trigger opening. By holding the pistol grip with one hand and pushing forward on the barrel with the other, the shooter’s finger comes in contact with the trigger. The recoil causes the gun to buck back and forth, “bumping” the trigger.
Technically, that means the finger is pulling the trigger for each round fired, keeping the weapon a legal semi-automatic.”
So, a bump stock modification to a semiautomatic rifle does not convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun, after all. And, there’s the rub!
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