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No, Bump Stocks Are Not Machine Guns

Bump Stock ban












The Department of Justice announced Tuesday the finalized form of the bump stock ban, achieved by amending ATF regulation so as to define bump stocks as “machineguns.”

According to reporting by our friend AWR Hawkins of Breitbart, the Department of Justice is amending the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to clarify that bump-stock-type devices-meaning “bump fire” stocks, slide-fire devices, and devices with certain similar characteristics-are “machineguns” as defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 because such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.

Hawkins reports the summary explains that there will be no grandfathering of pre-owned bump stocks. Rather, all bump stocks must be destroyed or handed over the ATF within 90 days of the ban’s effective date:

With limited exceptions, the Gun Control Act, as amended, makes it unlawful for any person to transfer or possess a machinegun unless it was lawfully possessed prior to the effective date of the statute. The bumpstock-type devices covered by this final rule were not in existence prior to the effective date of the statute, and therefore will be prohibited when this rule becomes effective. Consequently, under the final rule, current possessors of these devices will be required to destroy the devices or abandon them at an ATF office prior to the effective date of the rule.

However, as we explained in our article, The Fake News About Machine Guns In Las Vegas Attack, a bumpstock does not meet the definition of a machine gun established by the NFA:

A machine gun is regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934. The National Firearms Act (NFA) does not ban machine guns; it regulates their sale by imposing a $200 tax and registration scheme. This same legislation imposes a similar tax and registration on short-barreled (sawed-off) shotguns and rifles. The NFA and its attendant taxes are still in force, codified in amended form at 26 U.S.C. § 5801 et. seq.

Under 26 U.S.C. 5845(b), "The term machinegun' means any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended solely and exclusively, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person."

The “frame or receiver” is the “box,” if you will, that houses the trigger mechanism, hammer or striker, and to which the barrel and stock or grip are attached.

The key point in the legal definition of a machine gun versus any other kind of gun is this; the gun is “designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.”

This means that rapid fire guns that have a hand crank, such a Civil War era Gatling Gun, or a pump action rifle or shotgun or a semi-automatic gun that loads one round for each pull of the trigger is not a machine gun because they each require one trigger pull or other manual action per shot fired.

A “bumpfire stock,” as was apparently used in the Las Vegas attack, does not come within the purview of the NFA because it does not change how the gun loads or fires – it still requires one pull of the trigger for each round loaded and each shot fired.

So why all the confusion between a “bumpfire stock” and a machine gun in Las Vegas?

What a “bumpfire stock” does is substitute a mechanical device that transfers the energy generated by the exploding charge in the cartridge through a linkage to the receiver, thereby moving the gun, and in effect assisting the operator in pulling the trigger.

This increases the rate of fire by assisting the human mechanical action involved in pulling the trigger, and substituting a mechanical “bump” for the thought and muscle process of making your finger squeeze the trigger, but it doesn’t change the mechanism of the gun – it still delivers one shot and one reload per trigger pull, the same as if a human finger pulled the trigger without the mechanical assistance of the “bumpfire stock.”

You can view a video of how it works through this link. Pay careful attention to the operator’s trigger finger and notice how there is in fact one trigger pull per shot fired.

AWR Hawkins reports the bump stock ban is expected to appear in the federal register this Friday, thereafter giving owners 90 days to destroy them or turn them in. The 90 days ends March 21, 2019.

On December 18, 2018, a senior DOJ official told Breitbart News there are no plans to compensate bump stock owners for the financial value of their legally purchased bump stock accessories. The official also said the DOJ expects a legal challenge against the bump stock ban and is prepared to fight any suit that is filed.

If bumpstocks are to be banned, and we don’t think they should be, then Congress must do so by amending the National Firearms Act. The Department of Justice’s attempt to administratively redefine the relevant section of the statue fails to pass both common sense and constitutional muster.

UPDATE: Today, attorneys for an owner of a “bump-stock” device and three constitutional rights advocacy organizations filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump Administration’s new confiscatory ban on firearm parts, additionally challenging Matthew Whitaker’s legal authority to serve as Acting Attorney General and issue rules without being nominated to the role and confirmed by the Senate or by operation of law. A copy of the court filings can be viewed at

The plaintiffs also filed a motion seeking a temporary injunction to prevent the Trump Administration from implementing and enforcing the new regulation. The lawsuit, captioned as Guedes, et al. v. BATFE, et al., is backed by Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC), Firearms Policy Foundation (FPF), and Madison Society Foundation (MSF), also institutional plaintiffs in the case.

CHQ Editor George Rasley is a Glock ® certified pistol armorer and is a veteran of over 300 political campaigns, including every Republican presidential campaign from 1976 to 2008. He served as lead advance representative for Governor Sarah Palin in 2008 and has served as a staff member, consultant or advance representative for some of America's most recognized conservative Republican political figures, including President Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. He served in policy and communications positions on the House and Senate staff, and during the George H.W. Bush administration he served on the White House staff of Vice President Dan Quayle.

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