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Posted By FFL Dealer Network on 12/20/2018 in ATF Updates

Department of Justice Bans Bump Stocks

Department of Justice Bans Bump Stocks

A proposal to make "bump stocks" illegal at the federal level, and so illegal in all states and territories takes effect in March 2019. 

"In this proposed rule, the Department accordingly interprets the definition of “machinegun” to clarify that all bump-stock-type devices are “machineguns” under the GCA and NFA because they convert a semiautomatic firearm into a firearm that shoots automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger," says the order in the Federal Register. 

The order comes from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). 


If the rule is approved, civilians cannot legally own these accessories. This is a civilian market ban. Military and law enforcement can still have them. 

"ATF has now determined, based on its interpretation of the relevant statutory language, that these bump-stock-type devices, which harness recoil energy in conjunction with the shooter's maintenance of pressure, turn legal semiautomatic firearms into machine-guns," says the Federal Register report. 

Go back to the Reagan-era law that banned full-auto weapons, except for what already existed in the private market. BATF is using that law to say privately owned bump stocks are now illegal and must be destroyed or turned over to the BATF. The BATF is not granting a grace period to register the devices. 

"If the proposed rule became effective, bump-stock-type devices would be considered machineguns under the NFA and could not be lawfully possessed because the GCA prohibits persons from possessing a machinegun unless it was lawfully possessed before the effective date of the statute. Bump-stock-type devices currently possessed by individuals would have to be destroyed or turned in upon implementation of the regulation," says the COST TO THE PUBLIC section of the rule in the Federal Register. 

The BATF does not plan to pay people when the devices are handed over. 


In 2006, the BATF ruled bump stocks were full-auto firearms under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA). 

Under the Obama Administration, this rule was reversed, making some of the devices legal. Rulings on this kind of accessory continued through 2017. Some made it, some did not. "ATF ultimately concluded that these devices did not qualify as machineguns because, in ATF's view, they did not “automatically” shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger. ATF has also applied the “single pull of the trigger” interpretation to other trigger actuators, two-stage triggers, and other devices submitted to ATF for classification. Depending on the method of operation, some such devices were classified to be machineguns that were required to be registered in the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record," said the Federal Register report. 


Reaction from the firearms community to the bump stock ban was swift. The official notice in the Federal Register was not yet out and many gun groups filed lawsuits seeking to stop the ban. The Federal Register printed on Dec. 21. 

The Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation have a 923-page report detailing their opposition to this new rule. 

In what many are calling yet another sell-out, the National Rifle Association is throwing support to the bump stock ban

"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 (BATFE) 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," says the official NRA statement

BATF expected opposition. The Federal Register report said, "Most, however, contended that the Department lacks such authority, either because only Congress has the authority to regulate bump-stock-type devices or because the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution precludes any federal regulation of such devices. The Department disagrees. Congress has granted the Attorney General authority to issue rules to administer the GCA and NFA, and the Attorney General has delegated to ATF the authority to administer and enforce those statutes and implementing regulations."

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