Legality Of Bump-Fire Stocks Under Federal Review

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The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) announced on Tuesday that they had initiated a review of the current regulations on bump-fire stocks.

“The Department of Justice has the duty to enforce our laws, protect our rights, and keep the American people safe,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions had said in a statement released to the press. “Possessing firearm parts that are used exclusively in converting a weapon into a machine gun is illegal, except for certain limited circumstances. Today we begin the process of determining whether or not bump stocks are covered by this prohibition.”

The ATF had begun the regulatory process on Tuesday by submitting an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the Office of Management and Budget.

“We will go through the regulatory process that is required by law and we will be attentive to input from the public,” Sessions had said. “This Department is serious about firearm offenses, as shown by the dramatic increase in firearms prosecutions this year. The regulatory clarification we begin today will help us to continue to protect the American people by carrying out the laws duly enacted by our representatives in Congress.”

Bump-fire stocks have come under strict scrutiny after they were allegedly used in Las Vegas, Nevada, to in which Stephen Paddock killed nearly 60 people during a concert.

In 2010, Slide Fire had requested an ATF review of their bump-fire stock. The bump-fire stock, which is operationally similar to others on the market, helps a shooter physically pull the trigger of a semi-automatic rifle at a much faster rate than what otherwise be possible. The stock is designed so that a shooter can maintain his hold on the rifle’s grip with his shooting hand while his fingers placed on the trigger. The shooter then uses his support hand on the forward handguard and allows to apply a forward pressure that allows the gun’s trigger to be pressed into the shooting finger. That action fires the gun, which creates further recoil that pushes the gun rearward. If the technique is implemented properly, the recoil would push the gun rearward far enough to reset the semi-automatic rifle’s trigger and the forward pressure applied by the shooter’s support hand then rebounds the trigger back into the shooting finger allowing firing the gun again. The cycle then continues to repeats itself.

The bump-fire technique can also be accomplished without the use of a bump-fire stock or any other modification.

In response to Slide Fire’s requested review, ATF has determined that the company’s stock was only a firearm part and, hence, not subjected to the regulations under the Gun Control Act of 1968 or the National Firearms Act of 1934.

“The stock has no automatically functioning mechanical parts or springs and performs no automatic mechanical function when installed,” the ATF’s letter further stated. “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. 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.”

The National Rifle Association (NRA) called on the ATF to undertake a review of bump-fire stocks in October.

“In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved,” said top NRA executives Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox in October. “Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump-fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law. The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”