Last Friday, the Department of Justice officially published its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning bump stocks. The document says the devices fall within the definition of “machinegun” as outlined in the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act, essentially banning them in the United States. The move comes a month after President Donald Trump issued a memorandum directing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ban the devices. The perpetrator of the Vegas shooting reportedly used the device.
Banning Bump Stocks
“Since the day he took office, President Trump has had no higher priority than the safety of each and every American,” Sessions said in a statement. “That is why today the Department of Justice is publishing for public comment a proposed rulemaking that would define ‘machinegun’ to include bump stock-type devices under federal law—effectively banning them.
“After the senseless attack in Las Vegas, this proposed rule is a critical step in our effort to reduce the threat of gun violence that is in keeping with the Constitution and the laws passed by Congress,” Sessions continued. “I look forward to working with the President’s School Safety Commission to identify other ways to keep our country and our children safe, and I thank the President for his courageous leadership on this issue.”
What the NPRM Says
In the notice of proposed rulemaking, the DOJ says that in 2006, the ATF classified “certain bump-stock-type devices,” such as the Akins Accelerator, as “machineguns” under the GCA and NFA. But between 2008 and 2017, the ATF also determined other devices, like the Slide Fire used in the Vegas shooting, were not “machineguns.”
“Those decisions did not include extensive legal analysis relating to the definition of ‘machinegun,'” the NPRM reads. “Nonetheless, they indicated that semiautomatic firearms modified with these bump-stock-type devices did not fire ‘automatically,’ and thus were not ‘machineguns,’ because the devices did not rely on internal springs or similar mechanical parts to channel recoil energy.
“ATF has now determined that that conclusion does not reflect the best interpretation of the term ‘machinegun’ under the GCA and NFA,” the NPRM also says. “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.”
Furthermore, the NPRM goes on to say that this new rule affects two manufacturers and 2,281 retailers. In addition, it affects an “uncertain number of individuals” who own bump stocks or would have bought them.
In its statement, the DOJ says that all bump-stock-type devices would be “effectively banned” if the NPRM is finalized. As a result, all owners of such devices would have to “surrender, destroy or otherwise render the devices permanently inoperable.”
The official comment period for the notice is 90 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
To read the entire notice of proposed rulemaking, go to justice.gov.
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