Are Bump Stocks Still Alive? Feds Drop Charges Because They Couldn’t Prove Devices are Machine Guns

Bump stocks were effectively outlawed in 2018, but a new case out of Houston might be giving them new life.

A bump stock case in Houston is making waves in the pro-gun community after federal prosecutors dropped bump stock-related charges against a man because “the government couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt the bump stock was a machine gun,” according to the Houston Chronicle.

Ajay Dhingra, 44, was convicted for lying when he purchased a handgun, rifle and ammunition, and illegally possessing a weapon as a person who had been committed for mental illness. But federal prosecutors dropped charges for bump stock possession after Dhingra’s defense found a former ATF agent willing to testify that bump stocks are not machine guns.

That agent, Rick Vasquez, was ready to testify that, unlike machine guns, bump stocks require the shooter to make contact with the trigger each time a round is fired. His testimony convinced the prosecution that they would be unable to prove that a bump stock is a machine gun, despite the ATF ruling in 2018 that the two are synonymous.

“If something doesn’t meet the definition of a machine gun, it’s not a machine gun,” said defense attorney Tom Berg. “And no amount of wishing or passing rules can change it.”

SEE ALSO: Here’s Why ATF Approved Bump Stock But Not AutoGlove

Bump stocks were not incredibly popular AR-15 accessories relative to products like scopes, standard stocks, and aftermarket triggers. But they became a symbol for unaccountable federal power after the ATF unilaterally reversed its previous ruling and categorized bump stocks as machine guns.

When bump stocks were first introduced in 2010, the ATF told bump stock company SlideFire that their product would not be regulated as a machine gun.

“The stock has no automatically functioning mechanical parts or springs and performs no automatic mechanical function when installed,” they wrote.

“In order to use the installed device, the shooter must apply constant forward pressure with the non-shooting hand and constant rearward pressure with the shooting hand,” the agency continued. “Accordingly we find that the ‘bump-stock’ is a firearm part and is not regulated as a firearm under the Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.”

SEE ALSO: BREAKING: It’s Now Official. Trump Admin Bans Bump Stocks

Then, in 2018, following the Las Vegas massacre in which the shooter had bump stocks in his possession, the ATF reversed its decision and effectively banned the possession of bump stocks by re-categorizing them as machine guns.

The lawsuits from pro-gun organizations came fast and furious. Unfortunately, most were unsuccessful, and the ATF rule stood. One of the last remaining cases is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which is set to hear a challenge to the ATF’s ruling before the full 12-judge panel.

It’s unclear whether this case out of Houston will help the bump stock cause. But it certainly can’t hurt.

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About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over four years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco. Follow him on Instagram @bornforgoodluck and email him at jordan@gunsamerica.com.

{ 52 comments… add one }
  • The Thought November 23, 2020, 11:42 am

    Is it just me or is anybody seeing what’s coming?? I could be wrong, completely wrong. But Biden gets not office. They control the release date of the vaccine coming out, giving time for the Gvt to prepare. Then having the US military distribute the vaccine around the U.S. (What would that entail?)…. if I were gonna subvert the people of the U.S. I’d want an excuse to have the military spread out across the land (COVID). controlling the roadway systems with a Nationwide lockdown as an excuse. Once all of the Govt’s players are in place, I’d then have them confiscate all of the so called military arms within the populace. Does this sound too far fetched or am I just a Nimkimpoop? And NO….. I’m not Paranoid just deducing in my mind what’s going on in this country… Cause we all know thing are WHACk. Then having Biden and Harris in office (Hopefully Not).

    • Slim November 27, 2020, 9:22 am

      Well one thing that IS a FACT which is Biden IS OUR PRESIDENT ZERO FACTS(not blah blah that trump or anyone else wants to tweet. since Clearly he’s just stealing time to put the people he wants and can use at will for his own benefits and On his way out he’s trying to leave things so screwed up so it’ll look like Biden’s incompetent which won’t matter since he IS our President NOW he just won’t TAKE office till January when trump own secret service team will drag his ass out of the white house! Door to door isn’t going to happen! Feds better have millions and millions of not billions to buy back the most popular guns in America which is first the AR’s and AK’s that nobody really talks about.much but no doubt is a so called assault weapon to THEM even though it’s just a semi auto pistol, SBR, or rifle and that’s ALL! An assault weapon is a gun with.the fun switch… i.e. Safe, semi, FULL AUTO, and\or three round burst

  • Rusty November 23, 2020, 9:55 am

    So, let me get this straight. DJT addressed the NRA and it was inferred he is the most 2A person ever.

    We get endorsement of Red Flag laws, and a TRUMPSTOCK ban.

    We DON’T get National Repricrocity, nor Suppressors off of NFA, both of which were waiting in the wings, as bills, in one or the other houses of Congress, both having a Republican Majority.

    When do you suppose we will see those conditions again? They should have struck when the iron was hot!!

  • Rob November 23, 2020, 7:23 am

    Trump on the 2A

    At the time, I was told by NRA members that Trump addressing the NRA was a big deal.

    In his address Trump made no mention of advancing firearms rights by fighting for legislation that expands liberty or by fighting to repeal infringements.

    His EO to ban a gun accessory (bump stocks) is a horrible “precedent.” Where does one think Kamala Harris gets the idea that she can rule by dictatorial fiat, as it pertains to firearms?

    Moreover, PDJT pushed for blatantly unconstitutional red flag “laws.” “Take the guns first; worry about due process later.”

    Face the facts. PDJT was never a pro-2A politician. The reality never matched the rhetoric. Actions speak louder than words.

  • Area52 November 23, 2020, 6:45 am

    The main question; Did he get his bump stock back?

  • Frank November 22, 2020, 10:15 am

    Your comment is “stupid”. Allow me to explain…

    If we begin regulating products on the basis of “stupidity”, be prepared to give up half the stuff you own. A vehicle capable of going twice the posted speed limit is “stupid”. New clothes that are pre-torn, acid/bleach washed are “stupid” (check your kid’s closet). High-speed, two-wheeled vehicles (motorcycles) that provide zero crash protection are “stupid”. Intoxicating products that limit one’s mental capacity are “stupid”. High-caloric foods which contribute to obesity are “stupid”. Get the picture?

    Government has ONE supreme function… to safeguard the lives and liberty of its citizens. Both are EQUALLY important, as life without liberty is “stupid”.

  • Rattlerjake November 21, 2020, 10:40 am

    I actually don’t think that Trump is as anti-2A as most people think. I think there are two things going on with this issue:

    1) As usual the NRA didn’t take a hard stance against this ban and compromised (actually offered a compromise) to Trump. The NRA has been our worst enemy since it’s inception, considering that all of the current anti-2A legislation, by the fed and by the states has passed and remained largely due to the NRA’s tactic of compromise over “fight to the death”!

    and 2) I think that this was a calculated move by Trump that didn’t go according to plan. I believe that Trump initiated the executive order knowing there would be lawsuits that SHOULD HAVE proved bumpstocks are legal items, but as usual, it is the courts and lawyers that effectively prevented it from happening. Why is it that this current case suddenly proves that the ATF doesn’t have a “leg to stand on”, but none of the other cases did? Maybe now that the SCOTUS is heavily constitutional conservative we will finally see these 2A cases decided instead of dismissed or not being heard.

    Lets also not forget that some of these incidents put Trump “between a rock and a hard place”, because no matter what he does he will be considered wrong, just like with handling this corona virus. My understanding of the executive order banning bumpstocks was like his executive orders handling the covid plandemic, it directed the appropriate agency to establish a solution, and neither of those agencies is pro-trump!

  • Bobo November 21, 2020, 10:16 am

    Earl,
    After deciphering your question, the answer is Faster but no where near as accurate (accuracy isn’t the intent of bump-firing anyway)

  • Zupglick November 20, 2020, 3:24 pm

    You can argue legalities all day. One fact remains.
    Both Bump stocks and AR pistols are stupid.

    • Big Al 45 November 21, 2020, 1:06 pm

      Another “fact” is that opinions are like the nether regions. and yours is no different.
      Love the way you stretch the definition of ‘fact’.
      I suggest your next reading should be a Dictionary.

    • Rattlerjake November 21, 2020, 4:22 pm

      Just because you can’t see a need or want for either one you think they’re stupid, but all that shows is that you’re stupid. There are a million products made each year that could just as easily be called stupid, but that doesn’t mean they should be banned.

    • Frank November 22, 2020, 10:19 am

      Zupglick

      Your comment is “stupid”. Allow me to explain…

      If we begin regulating products on the basis of “stupidity”, be prepared to give up half the stuff you own. A vehicle capable of going twice the posted speed limit is “stupid”. New clothes that are pre-torn, acid/bleach washed are “stupid” (check your kid’s closet). High-speed, two-wheeled vehicles (motorcycles) that provide zero crash protection are “stupid”. Intoxicating products that limit one’s mental capacity are “stupid”. High-caloric foods which contribute to obesity are “stupid”. Get the picture?

      Government has ONE supreme function… to safeguard the lives and liberty of its citizens. Both are EQUALLY important, as life without liberty is “stupid”.

    • Chadwick November 22, 2020, 11:47 am

      Why are AR pistols stupid. The last time I checked inanimate objects did not have the capability of thought, therefore they could not be stupid…..you are obviously not an inanimate object because you sir, are an idiot!

    • Wes November 23, 2020, 7:41 am

      Then you must think that all Veterans who are disabled and missing limbs are stupid for defending our country at home and abroad. That many people in America could care less about and would not on their own accord do the same to defend our freedoms.. SB Tactical makes a excellent armbrace product for AR 15 pistols for us freedom loving patriots. You must not be a Veteran who has never served in a foreign war. Only then you may have a different mindset on what is Stupid.

      • Real Patriot November 23, 2020, 10:58 am

        I really can’t stand it when guys pull out the Veteran card and then expect people to kiss the boots. Makes you look weak… My Dad never did it to anybody because he “kept” his Honor.

  • Shan November 20, 2020, 3:11 pm

    Read through all the comments. There was a common theme. “ I think bumpstocks are dumb so who cares.”

    Maybe let us know what else you don’t like so we can ban that stuff too.

    I admit I was intrigued with the whole bump stock thing at first. Used two different models on my M4, they

    were a blast but hard to use accurately. Although after awhile I could walk my fire group pretty close or right

    on target. Still, just mainly fun. Now the model I slapped on my Saiga 762/39 … woo eee…. that thing was

    awesome. It ran great, took very little forward pressure with front hand and you wouldn’t think but ran nice

    with my scratchy stiff Saiga trigger. I could shoot the crappiest wolf or Tulo ammo and no jams. Unlike the

    M4 models. It’s ugly but heck if it’s not almost a full auto AK. I have since gotten rid of all of them now.

  • Michael V McGrew November 20, 2020, 1:41 pm

    It’s the same as a parent taking away our toys because one of us was “a bad boy”. If I had bought 2 or 3 of them just to go burn up some old ammo or for whatever LEGAL purpose that I chose to use it for it is MY BUSINESS. Keep in mind CONGRESS makes the laws not some damned bureaucracy. Their job is to ENFORCE the laws passed by congress. They ruled twice (even under the Obummer admin) that they were legal and therefore legal to own. It’s a freaking piece of plastic. What next, speed limit on how fast one can pull the trigger. What if she passes some stupid EO saying “All “ASSAULT WEAPONS” must be painted pink or they’re illegal? Would make about as much sense. Are bump stocks dumb, yes but they at least let one experience “simulated” full auto fire. If they’d kill the damned NFA we could all have “REAL” machine guns and still not hit shit. And it would drive the prices down on the real guns to an affordable level. Come on man, $13K for a strip of metal (lighting link), really? If that bitch actually gets into office and Butto comes to “buy back” my AR’s all they’re getting are the stripped lowers!

    • Rattlerjake November 21, 2020, 4:29 pm

      They’ll get nothing from me but hot lead!

  • Tom S Orlando November 20, 2020, 10:54 am

    Who is going to reimburse the gun owners and store owners the millions of dollars they lost when their property was illegally confiscated? I have never owned a bump stock, but I was severely pissed off when Trump started this and the NRA immediately went along. That’s not their job. It is a betrayal.

  • Alex November 20, 2020, 10:18 am

    Bring in a 1 handed man and 1,000 machine guns. He will be able to fire all machine guns on full auto. Now give him a slide fire stock. When he can’t shot it on “full auto”… Ask why? 😑

    • Bobo November 21, 2020, 10:02 am

      BRAVO! 👏👏👍

  • Don from CT November 20, 2020, 10:12 am

    Bump stocks are dumb. But their prohibition has huge huge implications.

    Never in the history of our country has a durable good been explicitly approved by its regulatory agency.

    Then prohibited and not grandfathered with no compensation.

    This is not a 2A case.

    This is a 5A case against Governmental taking without compensation.

    If they had grandfathered existing stocks or paid people for them, there would be no constiutional implications.

    But if I bought a bump stock, it was legal device at the time of purchase. Then it is banned and I need to either destroy it or turn it in without compensation. THAT is the real problem with the ban.

    • Don from CT November 20, 2020, 10:13 am

      As an aside. State bans don’t face such constitutional scrutiny. If MA bans bump stocks, the owner can always sell it on something like GunsAmerica and recoup his investment. Its not a taking if you can get paid for the item.

      • Alex November 20, 2020, 10:24 am

        Wrong. It is still unconstitutional to just ban something you legally possessed. States just violate the Constitution all the time. Who is to say anyone wants to buy your used crap? But then you go to jail if you don’t find a seller fast enough? What if you don’t have internet access? … What if you didn’t even know this new law was passed? You checked the laws, made sure it was legal, bought it and then one day overnight you’re a criminal without even knowing it?

      • Slim November 20, 2020, 3:52 pm

        FYI…. It’s illegal to posses, give away, sell, trade, or any other circumstance you can’t think of to get your money back since just possessing a numb stock is a felony just like owning an AR15 that was illegally milled to hold full auto select fire trigger groups so your wrong about being able to sell it since that is a felony aforementioned over since your possessing it, then selling it which is another felony! Also they classified bump stocks as a a destructive device or worse(can’t remember specifically but you can Google)making them them basically in the same category as a bomb so 99.9 of the population isn’t legal to posses since none of us have the federal paper work to be shown to legally make such items and even if you do bump stock a are still illegal so that’s why they got away with not paying us for the stick a and made that loop hole for themselves(feds)so they didn’t have to pay a sole a penny do the confiscation without any payment! Look it up and see how the feds now classify bump stocks and you’ll see the B.S. loop hole they smartly made up so we all get screwed over on multi hundred dollar stocks! Not at all saying it’s right! But facts and facts and clearly the feds can do as they please and change their minds at will so get used to it since its not going for her any better ever! Sadl!!!!

    • Alex November 20, 2020, 10:20 am

      It is still a 2a case as well. Along with the fact that the Constituion regarding how laws are made was violated. Offering money wouldn’t rectify anything either.

    • Walleye November 20, 2020, 4:16 pm

      Don, this is very much both a 2A and 5A case. Just because you think bump stocks are “dumb”, doesn’t make them so. Thousands of other gun owners would argue that point. Regardless, we gun owners and protectors of the 2A should always stand united and fight any infringement to our gun rights, just as the antis always fight united against us.

    • Ted November 20, 2020, 4:47 pm

      Everyone is missing the real argument here. That being when congress BANNED the manufacture and sale of LEGAL full auto weapons made post 1986. This IS a 2A issue and the only reason that we have things like a bump stock in the first place ! Since the BAN, the small number of these weapons in the NFA registry have gone up so much that the average individual can not afford to buy one !

  • Bryan November 20, 2020, 9:38 am

    The bump stock is a pretty useless gizmo fad that lets a shooter waste ammo by throwing lead downstream hoping that something gets hit in the process. Full-auto and weapons that fire 3-round burst are useful and can be controlled to reasonable accuracy…kinda reasonable.

    The bump stock is a basically a add-on toy to let the shooter feel as if he’s in the latest Rambo movie…simply put, a bump stock is a junk accessory.

    It is an accurate bullet that kills or cuts scoring holes in paper…money for all the rounds hitting everything but the target should have went to a more appropriate place…food, housing, fuel…

    • Jimbo November 20, 2020, 12:14 pm

      You sound like so many politicians today who want to tell people what they should own, how they should spend their own money, and how to live. This country is being destroyed partly because people judge everyone else’s actions while generally ignoring their own imposed standards.

      • Bobo November 21, 2020, 10:08 am

        Well said Jimbo!

        While it’s true accuracy suffers while bump-firing they were never intended to be for accuracy to begin with. Some people simply find them to be fun to use, give them a feel of what it would be like to own/shoot a full auto firearm (which are overly costly/regulated/restricted) and most people who’ve owned bumpstocks use them a handful of times before removing them, or use them on rare occasion just because….

        • DPM November 21, 2020, 11:05 pm

          Bobo I agree 100% they are a blast to shoot, and did not use it a lot. Show your friends let them shoot and then yes pull it off and just back to regular shooting. And these days doing a mag dump is going to cost you what 40 bucks. but they WERE fun.

  • Lon batt November 20, 2020, 9:21 am

    Where can I get one

    • Shan November 20, 2020, 2:55 pm

      Where can I sell two of em for like 2k?

  • Rusty November 20, 2020, 8:20 am

    Need to be completely honest, here…

    Trump SAID he was gonna get rid of BumpStocks, and HE did.

    He advised the DOJ to find a way, and they rewrote the law!!

    One of his BIGLY successes!!!

    This action opens up a can of worms on executive power that may not ever be closed.

    Talk about your slippery slope!!!!

    • Alex November 20, 2020, 10:12 am

      Exactly. This is literally why Kamala Harris thinks she can ban all semi-autos now through executive order. This was completely illegal and unconstitutional. Trump could have been thrown out of office for it, but it was the one thing the Democrats quietly loved. People don’t understand why this was a big deal. It 1. Gave president to the president creating executive orders to unilaterally ban gun related items that are completely legal. And 2. Federal agencies to play word games, disregard logic, redefine the English language and literally ban anything they want.

      • Rusty November 20, 2020, 12:24 pm

        Funny, the Republicans controlled BOTH the house and the senate when Trump pulled this stunt. Not a peep from any supposed 2A lawmakers.

        The NRA was just “Disappointed “ on our behalf.

  • Chip November 20, 2020, 8:13 am

    You are not being honest. It was not the ATF that banned bump stocks, it was an executive decision by Trump.
    Don’t try to rewrite history!

    • Justin November 20, 2020, 9:06 am

      Yes, it is just another of many examples of how badly over used and abused EOs have become.
      EOs have limitations and restrictions on when they can and cannot be used, such as only for emergency temporary use, and not for political reasons.
      But like the Constitution and their oaths of office, that is all being ignored and trampled on.

      So Rusty is partially correct in that “This action opens up a can of worms on executive power that may not ever be closed.” Even though that was an illegal use of an EO, and it is obviously not standing up in court.

      And it is definitely a very slippery slope.

  • Phillip DeWitt November 20, 2020, 7:41 am

    A bump stock has no rational use for a hunter, target shooter or in a tactical situation as it turns a accurate weapon into a area fire weapon. The only users are terrorist and c***s.

    • MAS November 20, 2020, 8:49 am

      Just because you find bump stocks useless does not make them illegal. I have no use for one, but couldn’t care less how many people love them and use them. It IS NOT a MACHINE GUN. Government has no legal authority to infringe upon our innate right to keep and bear arms to begin with!

      • Skip Roos November 23, 2020, 7:48 am

        Couldn’t agree with you more. Used to always want to own some full-auto weapons and after shooting them a number of times with friends and understanding how they burn through the ammunition, I changed my mind.

        Had no interest in bump stocks for same reason; however, saw nothing wrong with them.

        Our undoing will be the Laodicean republican senators and congressmen who want to be perceived as ‘good guys.’

    • gary h November 20, 2020, 8:56 am

      Amen to that. Who wants a less accurate firearm? Blowhards who think Hollywood movies are real and morons who equate the amount of lead in the air with manliness. One shot = one kill is the ethos of real men.

      • Rusty November 20, 2020, 9:13 am

        Real men don’t advance upon the enemy while their support lay down cover fire!?????

        Real men hide in a pile of leaves??

        There is merit for both!!!

        A useful tool if the need arises, is all they are!! Or were??

    • Big Jim November 20, 2020, 9:23 am

      This is not actually about the bump stock. It is about the rule of law.

      • Rusty November 20, 2020, 9:59 am

        10-4

        AND about how a 2A friendly Pres decided to re-write it by Executive Action.. x

      • Boss November 20, 2020, 10:18 am

        True!

    • Alex November 20, 2020, 10:15 am

      You clearly don’t understand why this is an issue. Kamala Harris is using this to say she can ban all semi autos via executive order. This is a problem. The only people who can’t see that are “terrorists and c***s”.

    • Earl Haehl November 20, 2020, 11:08 am

      So, would a bumpstock wake the average thug able to hoot a Stoner sem-auto platform as fas a Jerry Miculek withou the aid.

    • Ted November 20, 2020, 4:49 pm

      Since when did MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT need YOUR RATIONAL APPROVAL ?

    • Bobo November 21, 2020, 10:14 am

      Bumpstocks were NEVER intended for hunting, target shooting or “tactical” situations, they were simply designed to give someone the “feel” of firing a full auto with out the hassle/expense of owning one, in other words they were meant to be “FUN” and only terrorists try to dictate how people have fun…

      • Yep yep November 22, 2020, 1:06 am

        You said it best…..

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