DOJ, Trump Admin Ban Bump Stocks

The new regulation gives owners 90 days to destroy or turn the devices in to the ATF.

On Tuesday, the Trump Administration banned the devices commonly known as bump stocks, which increase the rate of fire of semiautomatic weapons by using the gun’s recoil to manipulate the trigger.

The new regulation, which the Department of Justice introduced in March of this year, gives owners 90 days to destroy or turn the devices in to the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) after it goes on the Federal Register, which is slated to occur on Friday, December 21, 2018.

The "administration has now reclassified the accessories as machine guns," according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

"That new interpretation reverses an ATF decision made in 2010, and a second approval in 2012 under then-President Barack Obama, that found bump stocks were not the same as machine guns and weren’t regulated under current statute," the story says.

Unlike previous bans, there is no provision to “grandfather in” the devices, which will be regulated by the same rules that govern machine guns.

This, however, is a deviation from other laws, such as the 1986 Firearm Owners Protection Act, which effectively banned machine guns by prohibiting sale of automatic weapons manufactured after 1985 to civilians. Currently, there is no plan in place to compensate citizens for the seized or destroyed property.

This is one of many reasons that Clark Aposhian, chairman of the Utah Shooting Sports Council, takes issue with the ban.

An ATF estimate published by the Associated Press states that between 280,000 and about 520,000 bump stocks have been sold since 2010. The same report also notes that they aren’t traceable and exact figures aren’t known. Because they have been, until now, considered a firearm accessory, the ATF didn’t require the devices to have serial numbers or to be registered in any way.

"Why should anyone have to give up their own private property?" he asked. The gun rights advocate told the Salt Lake Tribune that bump stocks were blamed for the October 2017 Las Vegas tragedy. "They were just looking for a scapegoat. And they found one."

Aposhian dismissed the notion that bump stocks turn semi-automatics into machine guns as the new law, and a past tweet by President Trump infers. The tweet said, “We will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns.”

When the ATF originally reviewed the devices in 2010, the agency agreed with Aposhian and allowed them to be sold—because the definition of a machine gun or a fully automatic firearm is that the gun will continue to fire as long as the trigger is depressed or that it will fire more than one round with each pull of the trigger (to address burst fire modes). Though it's happening quickly, a bump stock does not change the fact that a semi-automatic firearm only fires one round per trigger pull.

The same effect, known as a bump fire, can be achieved with pretty much any semi-auto firearm using nothing more than a trigger finger and a belt loop.

"I think the president and the administration [have] let emotion rule the day on this one," Aposhian told the Tribune, adding that "one guy in Vegas" was not indicative of an overall "pattern of abuse or unlawful activity linked to bump stocks."

Of the Las Vegas tragedy, Aposhian believes mental health to be more of an issue than bump stocks—a view echoed by others in the pro-gun camp.

“ATF’s claim that it can rewrite Congressional law cannot pass legal muster. Agencies are not free to rewrite laws under the guise of ‘interpretation’ of a statute, especially where the law’s meaning is clear."

- —Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America

Founder of Women Against Gun Control, Janalee Tobias, told Fox News that the causes of mass shootings should be investigated, which will have more of an effect on prevention instead of more regulations.

“Guns are harder to get than they ever have been but evil people still get guns,” she said.

How the ban will be enforced is not clear at the moment. Some undoubtedly feel like Aposhian, who told the Tribune he "will reluctantly comply with the new regulation," but isn't so sure others will.

An ATF estimate published by the Associated Press states that between 280,000 and about 520,000 bump stocks have been sold since 2010. The same report also notes that they aren't traceable and exact figures aren't known. Because they have been, until now, considered a firearm accessory, the ATF didn't require the devices to have serial numbers or to be registered in any way.

Gun Owners of America disagree with the ban and plan on taking the Trump Administration to court over it. The Second Amendment organization announced it would be filing suit against the ATF and the Department of Justice to seek an injunction protecting gun owners from the new legislation.

Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America said, “As written, this case has important implications for gun owners since, in the coming days, an estimated half a million bump stock owners will have the difficult decision of either destroying or surrendering their valuable property—or else risk felony prosecution.

“ATF’s claim that it can rewrite Congressional law cannot pass legal muster. Agencies are not free to rewrite laws under the guise of ‘interpretation’ of a statute, especially where the law’s meaning is clear," he continued.

“The new ATF regulations would arbitrarily redefine bump stocks as ‘machineguns’—and, down the road, could implicate the right to own AR-15’s and many other lawfully owned semi-automatic firearms,” Pratt added. “ATF’s new bump stock regulation clearly violates federal law, as bump stocks do not qualify as machineguns under the federal statute.”

For more information about the suit, or GOA and GOF's recommendation for bump stock owners, visit their site.