The Ban of Bump-Fire Stocks on Firearms

By  | January 15, 2019 | Filed under: News

I got the notification of the ban of Bump-Fire Stocks across my desk the last week of December, 2018.  That day, I was talking to Quad Cities Daily owner Steve Wiggins and this discussion came up.  Mr. Wiggins stated that we should write an article about this in case some of our readers have one of these stocks.    So, here is the article that he spoke about.

First we should define a Bump-Fire Stock.  I went to Wikipedia and found the follow.  This is from their website:

   “Bump fire is the act of using the recoil of a semi-automatic firearm or revolver to fire shots in rapid succession at the cost of accuracy of individual shots.

     Bump fire gunstocks are of varying legality in the United States. Following the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, the Department of Justice announced a plan on March 23, 2018 to classify bump stocks as “machine guns” and effectively ban them nationwide under existing federal law.  If the rule becomes final, existing bump stocks would require a license, or one have a FFL, or be required to be destroyed or surrendered by both manufacturers and individual owners. The Department of Justice announced on December 18, 2018 that bump stocks would be regulated like machine guns by March 26, 2019.

      On April 17, 2018, Slide Fire Solutions, the sole holder of the bump stock patent, announced that it would cease production of bump stocks as of May 20, though they did not state whether this was a temporary or permanent measure. It has temporarily suspended production before.

    The bump firing process involves bracing the firearm with the non-trigger hand, releasing the grip on the firing hand (leaving the trigger finger in its normal position in front of the trigger), pushing the firearm forward with the non-trigger hand in order to apply pressure on the trigger from the finger, and keeping the trigger finger stationary. During a shot, the firearm will recoil (“bump” back) and the trigger will reset as it normally does; then, the non-trigger hand pulls the firearm away from the body and back to the original position, pressing the trigger against the stationary finger again, thereby firing another round when the trigger is pushed back.

    Normally, a rifle is held securely and firmly against the shoulder, but the loose shoulder hold that allows the weapon’s recoil to aid trigger depression negatively affects accuracy in a way that is not encountered with firearms that are designed for select-fire.

     A similar method can be employed with semi-automatic pistols, in which one hand holds the grip, two fingers of the other hand are placed in the trigger well, and then the grip hand shoves the firearm forward while the trigger fingers remain stationary. With revolvers, rapid fire can be achieved by using two trigger fingers firing offset.

Limitations

     All these techniques greatly degrade the accuracy of the firearm. The techniques trade accurate, aimed fire for an increase in the firearm’s rate of fire. The inaccuracy renders the practice uncommon for precision target shooting, but is increasingly popular for applications where volume of fire is favored over accuracy. None of these techniques fire more than one round with a single trigger pull; rather they compensate for biomechanical limitations associated with how fast a finger can repetitively pull the trigger.

    With bump firing, it is common to use all the rounds in the firearm’s magazine, but it becomes easy to create a stoppage as the cycling of all semiautomatic firearms requires the bolt to move against the stationary firearm (low-mass semiautomatic pistols suffer from the same problem due to “limp wristing”). The bolt must complete the stroke against the spring, and that doesn’t happen if both the bolt and spring are moving backwards. Non-bump fire rifles can suffer the same failure from fouling or for undercharged ammunition. Blanks also can cause these failures. Additionally, it is possible that if a gun is bump-fired too fast, then the hammer will be released before the bolt closes. This will either cause the hammer to “ride” the bolt carrier without firing the chambered round or cause the firearm to slamfire.

Bump fire stocks 

    Bump fire stocks are gunstocks that are specially designed to make bump firing easier, which assist semi-automatic firearms with somewhat mimicking the firing motion of fully automatic weapons but does not make the firearm automatic.   Essentially, bump stocks assist rapid fire by “throwing” the trigger against one’s finger (as opposed to one’s finger pulling on the trigger) thus allowing the firearm’s recoil to actuate the trigger. Bump fire stocks can be placed on a few common weapon platforms such as the AR or AK families. They can achieve rates of fire between 400 and 500 rounds per minute depending on the gun.   As of 2018, bump fire stocks in the United States may sell for around $100 and up, with prices increasing due to potential regulation.

    Slide Fire Solutions, the inventor, patent holder, and leading manufacturer of bump stocks, suspended sales after bump stocks were used in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting and resumed sales a month later.  On May 20, 2018, Slide Fire Solutions halted sales and production of its products.

Regulatory status in the United States

     The ATF ruled in 2010 that bump stocks were not a firearm subject to regulation and allowed their sale as an unregulated firearm part.   In the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, twelve bump fire stock devices were found at the scene. The National Rifle Association stated on October 5, 2017, “Devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations”, and called on regulators to “immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law”.  The 2017 shooting generated bipartisan interest in regulating bump stocks.  On October 4, 2017, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill to ban bump stocks,but it was not acted upon. Instead, on February 20, 2018, President Trump instructed the ATF to issue regulations to treat bump stocks as machineguns.[

    On March 23, 2018, the Department of Justice announced a plan to change the regulatory status of bump stocks. The proposed change would classify bump stocks as “machineguns” and effectively ban the devices in the United States under existing federal law. If the rule becomes final, people would be required to destroy or surrender existing devices. A notice of proposed rulemaking was issued by the ATF on March 29, 2018, and opened for public comments.  On December 18, 2018, the final regulation to ban bump stocks was signed by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and is scheduled to go into effect on March 26, 2019.[  Several gun rights groups have announced that they will sue to challenge the regulation.

    Sale of bump stocks has been illegal in California since 1990. They were banned in New York with the passage of the NY SAFE Act in 2013. In his final day as governor in January 2018, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation making the gun accessory illegal in New Jersey.  The device’s legal status is unclear in Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. Massachusetts banned bump stocks after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting.

     On March 9, 2018, after the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the state of Florida enacted SB 7026, which, among other things, banned bump stocks.  Some parts of the bill took effect immediately, but the portion banning bump stocks took effect October 1, 2018. Vermont passed a similar law in 2018.Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Washington followed suit.

 

Patent infringement suit

    Slide Fire Solutions filed suit against Bump Fire Systems for infringement of its patents on bump stock designs in 2014.  The suit alleged that Bump Fire Systems infringed eight US Patents, for example, United States Patent No. 6,101,918 entitled “Method And Apparatus for Accelerating the Cyclic Firing Rate of a Semi-Automatic Firearm” and United States Patent No. 8,127,658 entitled “Method of Shooting a Semi-Automatic Firearm”. The suit was settled in 2016, resulting in Bump Fire Systems ceasing manufacture of the product in contention.

Other lawsuits

    Survivors of the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas shooting sued bump stock patent holder and manufacturer Slide Fire Solutions, claiming the company was negligent and that they deliberately attempted to evade U.S. laws regulating automatic weapons: “this horrific assault would not and could not have occurred, with a conventional handgun, rifle, or shotgun, of the sort used by law-abiding responsible gun owners for hunting or self defense.”

Public opinion

Recent polls show public support for a bump stock ban. Immediately following the 2017 Las Vegas Shooting 72% of registered voters supported a bump stock ban, including 68% of Republicans and 79% of Democrats.  A 2018 poll found 81% of American adults supported banning bump stocks with a margin of error of +/- 3.5%.   A different poll around the same time found 56% of American adults supported banning bump stocks with a margin of error of +/- 4%.

 

So that our readers know exactly what the Ban says, we have included the Press Release from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

 

https://www.atf.gov/rules-and-regulations/bump-stocks

On December 18, 2018, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announced that the Department of Justice has amended the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), clarifying that bump stocks fall within the definition of “machinegun” under federal law, as such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.

The final rule clarifies that the definition of “machinegun” in the Gun Control Act (GCA) and National Firearms Act (NFA) includes bump-stock-type devices, i.e., devices that allow a semiautomatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger by harnessing the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm to which it is affixed so that the trigger resets and continues firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter.

The rule will go into effect 90 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

What To Do

Current possessors of bump-stock-type devices must divest themselves of possession as of the effective date of the final rule.

One option is to destroy the device, and the final rule identifies possible methods of destruction, to include completely melting, shredding, or crushing the device. Any method of destruction must render the device incapable of being readily restored to function.

Current possessors also have the option to abandon bump-stock-type devices at the nearest ATF office. ATF advises that it is best to make an appointment beforehand with the nearest ATF office.

On February 20, 2018, President Trump issued a memorandum instructing the Attorney General “to dedicate all available resources to… propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.”

In response to that direction the Department reviewed more than 186,000 public comments and made the decision to make clear that the term “machinegun” as used in the National Firearms Act (NFA), as amended, and Gun Control Act (GCA), as amended, includes all bump-stock-type devices that harness recoil energy to facilitate the continuous operation of a semiautomatic long gun after a single pull of the trigger.

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Department of Justice Announces Bump-Stock-Type Devices Final Rule

Today, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announced that the Department of Justice has amended the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), clarifying that bump stocks fall within the definition of “machinegun” under federal law, as such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.

Acting Attorney General Whitaker made the following statement:

“President Donald Trump is a law and order president, who has signed into law millions of dollars in funding for law enforcement officers in our schools, and under his strong leadership, the Department of Justice has prosecuted more gun criminals than ever before as we target violent criminals. We are faithfully following President Trump’s leadership by making clear that bump stocks, which turn semiautomatics into machine guns, are illegal, and we will continue to take illegal guns off of our streets.”

On February 20, 2018, President Trump issued a memorandum instructing the Attorney General “to dedicate all available resources to… propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.” In response to that direction the Department reviewed more than 186,000 public comments and made the decision to make clear that the term “machinegun” as used in the National Firearms Act (NFA), as amended, and Gun Control Act (GCA), as amended, includes all bump-stock-type devices that harness recoil energy to facilitate the continuous operation of a semiautomatic firearm after a single pull of the trigger.

This final rule amends the regulatory definition of “machinegun” in Title 27, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), sections 447.11, 478.11, and 479.11.  The final rule amends the regulatory text by adding the following language:  “The term ‘machine gun’ includes bump-stock devices, i.e., devices that allow a semiautomatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger by harnessing the recoil energy of the semi-automatic firearm to which it is affixed so that the trigger resets and continues firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter.” Furthermore, the final rule defines “automatically” and “single function of the trigger” as those terms are used in the statutory definition of machinegun.  Specifically,

  • “automatically” as it modifies “shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot,” means functioning as a result of a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism that allows the firing of multiple rounds through the single function of the trigger;
  • “single function of the trigger” means single pull of the trigger and analogous motions.

Because the final rule clarifies that bump-stock-type devices are machineguns, the devices fall within the purview of the NFA and are subject to the restrictions of  18 U.S.C. 922(o).  As a result, persons in possession of bump-stock-type devices must divest themselves of the devices before the effective date of the final rule.  A current possessor may destroy the device or abandon it at the nearest ATF office, but no compensation will be provided for the device.  Any method of destruction must render the device incapable of being readily restored to its intended function.

The final rule may be found here.

Information and instructions for destruction of the devices will be posted on ATF’s website later today.

Please note:  This is the text of the final rule as signed by the Acting Attorney General, but the official version of the final rule will be as it is published in the Federal Register.

     We here at the Quad Cities Daily want our readers, especially those that may have a Bump-Fire Stock to understand the new law about these stocks.  The Quad Cities Daily continues to inform their readers of the latest news.

Be safe and happy shooting.

 

 Bobby Inman is retired from Law Enforcement after 21 years of Service.  He is a Consultant for Southern Heritage Gun & Pawn in Tuscumbia.   He has articles published in Law & Order Magazine, Police Marksman Magazine, Guns& Weapons for Law Enforcement Magazine as well as several published ebooks on Amazon, Kobo Writing, as well as Nook (Barnes & Noble).  He is owner of Poopiedog, an Animal Rescue Dachshund, who is his constant companion.  He is married to Tracey Inman.  Bobby and Tracey are photographers for Subtle & Slams Photography.   He is a Senior Investigative Reporter for the Quad Cities Daily.  Bobby is the Photographer for Continental Championship Wrestling. 

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