The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAMMI) released this joint statement Monday in the wake of the tragic attack in Las Vegas a week ago Sunday:
Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families and loved ones of all those killed and injured in the criminal attack in Las Vegas. The manufacture, distribution and sale of automatic firearms and their components has been stringently regulated by federal laws since 1934. We believe the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) should interpret and enforce existing laws and regulations. We call upon ATF to conduct a prompt review and evaluation of aftermarket trigger activation devices such as bump stocks to determine whether they are lawful to install and use on a firearm under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA), or whether, if they have no function or purpose other than to convert a conventional firearm into an automatic firearm, they are regulated items under the NFA. We urge Congress to allow ATF to complete its review before considering any legislation so that any policy decisions can be informed by the facts and ATF’s analysis.
It appears the NSSF and SAMMI are following in the footsteps of the NRA, which also called for the ATF to review bump stocks to determine whether they should be subject to additional regulations.
The ATF has already reviewed bump stocks twice, once in June of 2010 and then again in 2012. On both occasions, the agency found that it was not a firearm and therefore not regulated by law, as PolitiFact noted.
“The stock has no automatically functioning mechanical parts or springs and performs no automatic mechanical function when installed,” ATF’s technology chief John Spencer wrote in a letter addressed to Slide Fire Solutions in 2010.
“Accordingly, we find that the ‘bump-stock’ is a firearm part and is not regulated as a firearm under Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act,” Spencer concluded.
A letter with similar language was sent to Bump Fire Systems, a Slide Fire competitor that stopped selling bump stocks last year due to patent infringement, in 2012.
The obvious question, what would change a third time around? Would the ATF make a different determination on bump stocks?
Rick Vasquez, a former Firearms Technology Branch official who signed off on the 2010 letter to Slide Fire, told PolitiFact that in order to re-evaluate bump stocks the ATF would have to change the way it interpreted the NFA or issue new legislation that would allow the device to be regulated.
Eek. New laws, new ways of interpreting the NFA? Sounds like a can of worms that I’m not sure we want to open.