Responding to political and public outcry following the Las Vegas concert shooting, the ATF may redefine bump stocks as machine guns. The agency is asking for public feedback before making any changes to their regulations.
After the shooting earlier this year even pro-gun groups like the NRA wanted the ATF to establish bump stock guidelines. Currently there are no regulations on bump-fire devices.
Bump-firing is a shooting technique that has been around for decades. Bump firing uses the recoil from shooting to rock a gun back and forth which allows the user to pull the trigger quickly. Bump-fire devices make it easier to do this without much practice.
The reason these devices aren’t regulated is that they comply with all current definitions of semi-automatic fire. Guns outfitted with bump-fire devices still only fire once for each pull of the trigger.
“The NFA defines ‘machine gun’ as any weapon which ‘Shoots, is designed to shoot or can be readily restored to shoot automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger,'” explains the agency.
“The term [machine gun] also includes ‘the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun, and any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.’
The ATF would like to know not only if they should control these devices like machine guns, but also how they could.
“The Department of Justice anticipates issuing a Notice of Proposed Rule-making (NPRM) that would interpret the statutory definition of ‘machine gun’ … to clarify whether certain devices, commonly known as ‘bump fire’ stocks, fall within that definition,” said the ATF in the Federal Register (.pdf). “Before doing so, the Department and ATF need to gather information and comments from the public and industry regarding the nature and scope of the market for these devices.”
“The NPRM is intended as an initial step in a regulatory process to gather information regarding the scope and nature of the market for these devices,” said the NSSF in a statement. “While this step is not proposing a change to current regulations, ATF notes, ‘If, in a subsequent rule-making, the definition of machine gun … is interpreted to include certain bump stock devices, ATF would then have a basis to re-examine its prior classification and rulings.”
The NSSF is asking for all of its members to give feedback on the proposal. They will compile all the comments they receive from members to use in their industry comment letter. For contact info visit the NSSF website.
See Also: Massachussetts First to Ban Bump Stocks
While the ATF may choose to arbitrarily classify bump-fire devices as machine guns, coming up with a clear definition of what a bump-fire device is will be much more difficult. Proposed legislation to regulate bump-fire devices could be used to ban nearly completely unrelated gun parts.
There are millions of bump-fire devices in use today. They vary from high-quality factory-made bump stocks to simple rubber band rigs.
It would be impossible to regulate all the devices already on the market. And of course, with practice a shooter can learn to bump-fire without any devices at all.