By Mike Keleher
BATF& E rules banned the Bump Stock on December 18, 2018 and give owners until late March of 2019 to turn them in or destroy them.
Also on 18 December, 2018, a lawsuit challenging the confiscatory ban was filed in Federal Court. A plaintiff and three gun groups filed the case under Guedes, et al. v. BATFE, et al challenging the implementation by executive action. They also filed a motion requesting a temporary restraining order to stop the enforcement of the controversial new regulation.
Everyone in America seems to know the murderous Las Vegas shooter had at least one gun with a Bump Stock installed and it may have illegally used by that madman to murder victims attending a concert across the street from the Mandalay Bay. This seems to be the single known criminal misuse of a rifle or carbine with a Bump/Slide stock.
Following the shooting, the Bump Stock was immediately seen to be evil in any form, and according to politicians completely without redeeming value and "somebody ought to do something."
In an odd move for such a purported pro-gun and 2nd Amendment advocate, President Trump took up the idea to ban the Bump Stock, and this week it went into place by executive action, not legislative action. Which also immediately lead to the request for judicial action which can quite likely run all the way up the the Supreme Court.
The actual device, an identified gun part, has always previously survived BATFE review way back in the Obama Administration days around 2010. They were found to be legal to sell and use in a law abiding manner since it was still only making a semi-automatic firearm expel a single bullet with the single pull of a trigger and not creating fully automatic fire with the single press of a trigger.
This new BATFE rule declares the item to be a "machine gun"….yes, review that again-this stock which mounts on a semi-automatic rifle is now considered a fully automatic machine gun all by itself…even just lying on a shelf. Remember when M-16 parts and other real fully automatic weapons parts were verboten, then later it was challenged and found they are only illegal if assembled to make a "machine gun." You can still own those parts. Not so with the Bump Stock.
Owners now have 90 days to turn in or destroy their stocks according to this rule, and could face maximum penalties of up to 10 years in federal prison and/or $250,000 in fines.
Some of the identified verbiage to be printed in the Federal Register addressing bump style or slide style stocks is so poorly worded it should not stand up to rigorous court review when they call it a machine gun.
"…these devices convert an otherwise semiautomatic firearm into a machine gun by functioning as a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism that harnesses the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm in a manner that allows the trigger to reset and continue firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter. Hence, a semiautomatic firearm to which a bump-stock-type device is attached is able to produce automatic fire with a single pull of the trigger. 83 Federal Register (FR) 2018 at 13447-48."
Automatic fire? Hardly. Rapid fire? Yes. But it does not produce automatic fire with a single trigger pull. The shooter must pull the trigger and use forward pressure on the stock to trigger a shot. Recoil moves the gun back to the trigger finger. Any subsequent shot requires those actions and does not turn on some magic fully automatic/machine gun switch.
The new rule's verbiage also does not fit the National Firearms Act definition of what constitutes a a machine gun- "…a machine gun to include 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." 26 USC 5845
Hopefully the court system will bounce at this type of description being applied to a single gun part. For the rest of us, it is of course a slippery slope to ban one part and then others who are politically deemed to be evil.
Where is the NRA on all of this? Pretty quiet. One of their reps this week called the rule "disappointing" and said they hoped some sort of amnesty would be offered since owners previously relied upon BATFE regulations to purchase and own these items.
Can anyone recall the federal government suddenly outlawing a particular piece of personal property that was already in the general population and requiring a turn in with no compensation? The only thing I can think of like that is moon rocks which are considered to be national treasures-are Bump Stocks national treasures?
There are an estimated 500,000 of these parts in private hands. While most shooters don't own or want one, a half million do, and they damn sure don't want the Government to start taking them away.