Sorry this took so long. It’s 157 pages of bureaucratese. And partway through I got sidetracked by a closely related issue.
The key points are:
- It is an outright, ungrandfathered, ban on bump-fire stocks (BSTD; and there’s a reason I’m adopting the ATF’s acronym -grin-), as expected.
- It is as bad as expected, reiterating lies.
- It is potentially the basis for a complete semi-auto ban, due to the nature of the lies.
I’ll address things as I encountered them as I read the document, so this will ramble.
Page 22 presents an important false claim.
The Department explained that when a shooter who has affixed a bump-stock-type device to a semiautomatic firearm pulls the trigger, that movement initiates a firing sequence that produces more than one shot. And that firing sequence is “automatic” because the device harnesses the firearm’s recoil energy in a continuous back-and-forth cycle that allows the shooter to attain continuous firing after a single pull of the trigger, so long as the trigger finger remains stationary on the device’s ledge (as designed). Accordingly, these devices are included under the definition of “machinegun” and, therefore, come within the purview of the NFA.
They consistently refer to a single trigger pull “initiating a firing sequence.” They treat all other actions of the trigger finger on the trigger as something magical that the BSTD does, not the shooter.
They consistently claim that BSTDs are “automatic” because the device harnesses the firearm’s recoil energy in a continuous back-and-forth cycle,” totally ignoring the fact that recoil only disengages the trigger from the finger. Somehow, the BSTD magically redirects the energy to push the trigger against the finger again. Of course, this is a lie; the spring-equipped Akins Accelerator did do that, but springless bump-fire stocks do not. BSTDs require the shooter to manually push the firearm forward with the supporting hand/arm.
As I said, this is a ban, so you have to destroy the BSTD.
Acceptable methods of destruction include completely melting, shredding, or crushing the device. If the device is made of metal, an alternative acceptable method of destruction is using an oxy/acetylene torch to make three angled cuts that completely severs design features critical to the functionality of the bump-stock-type device. Each cut should remove at least ¼ inch of metal per cut. Any method of destruction must render the device so that it is not readily restorable to a firing condition or is otherwise reduced to scrap. However, as the majority of bump-stock-type devices are made of plastic material, individuals may use a hammer to break them apart so that the device is not readily restorable to a firing condition or is otherwise reduced to scrap, and throw the pieces away.
Turning it in to the ATF is also an option.
However, current possessors also have the option to abandon bump-stock-type devices at the nearest ATF office.
That’s the option I recommend.
The doc spends page upon page addressing specific concerns raised in the public commenting period, mostly to hand-wave and declare, “Nah. We don’t think so.”
One commenter said that should ATF be asked to demonstrate the firing of a rifle equipped with a bump-stock-type device with the shooter only using his trigger hand, and no coordinated input from the other hand, it could not be done, as it requires two hands, skill, and coordination.
That was me. Challenge declined, by the way.
The Department disagrees that a shooter repeatedly actuates, functions, or pulls the trigger of a semiautomatic firearm using a bump-stock-type device with the non-trigger hand by “pushing the firearm forward.” In fact, the shooter “pulls” the trigger once and allows the firearm and attached bump-stock-type device to operate until the shooter releases the trigger finger or the constant forward pressure with the non-trigger hand. The non-trigger hand never comes in contact with the trigger and does not actuate, function, or pull it. By maintaining constant forward pressure, a shooter relies on the device to capture and direct recoil energy for each subsequent round and requires no further manipulation of the trigger itself.
“relies on the device to capture and direct recoil energy for each subsequent round The BSTD pushes the firearm forward, not the shooter.
In this way, the Department also disagrees that “[r]ecoil is incidental to the firing sequence of a bump-stock type device equipped semiautomatic firearm, not intrinsic.” Without recoil and the capture and directing of that recoil energy, a bump-stock-type device would be no different from a traditional shoulder stock. As numerous commenters acknowledged, bump-stock-type devices allow shooters to fire semiautomatic firearms at a faster rate and in a different manner than they could with traditional shoulder stocks. Bump-stock-type devices do this by capturing and directing recoil mechanically, enabling continuous fire without repeated manual manipulation of the trigger by a shooter.
And things get potentially truly nasty with that. A BSTD would be just like a fixed stock if it — not the shooter, mind you — didn’t magically push the gun forward with mystically redirected recoil forces…
Did they do all their testing with previously banned Akins Accelerators?
But since BSTDs do not push the gun forward, then — by their definition of reality — BSTDs are the same as fixed stocks. If one is banned for being a machinegun… I’ll let you reason that out.
Naturally, they had to address the fact that you can bump-fire a rifle with pretty much everything, no required.
This rule defines the term “automatically” to mean “functioning as the result of a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism.” Bump-stock-type devices enable semiautomatic firearms to operate “automatically” because they serve as a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism. An item like a belt loop is not a “self-acting or self-regulating mechanism.” When such items are used for bump firing, no device is present to capture and direct the recoil energy; rather, the shooter must do so.
False. The belt loop serves exactly the same function as the bump-fire stock: to help your finger engage the trigger as you pull the firearm forward after recoil.
In fact, the belt-loop method provides a stabilizing point for the trigger finger but relies on the shooter-not a device-to harness the recoil energy so that the trigger automatically re-engages by “bumping” the shooter’s stationary trigger finger.
They are so full of… semi-hard intestinal thing… bump-fire stocks — except the spring-equipped Akins Accelerator — do not “harness the recoil energy” to return the trigger to the finger. The shooter’s tensioned arm does that, whether using bump stock, fixed stock, belt-loop or simply two hands.
In short, a BSTD is an inert object. Anything it does in terms of causing the trigger finger to engage the trigger is same as a fixed stock, or belt loop. If a gun with a bump stock is a machinegun, then so is a gun with a fixed stock, because it can be bump-fired.
Therein lays the potential semi-auto ban. Think not? Imagine if HRC has won in 2016, and this were from her administration.
And then we get to page 113. Though page 117.
Holy carp! This is fishy. They spent five pages discussing commenter’s complaint that they hosed the commenting period by linking to the closed ANPRM instead of the NPRM, and making it impossible to comment online for a brief period. And blow it off as “Too bad.” And they claim they the “online author, whose comments seemed to vanish, direct links to his comments.
I have reason to believe I am the “online author.” 1) I’m a writer for The Zelman Partisans. 2) I made a comment which was misdirected to the ANPRM instead of the NPRM. 3) I noted that comments closed. 4) I contacted the ATF to complain. 5) I wrote about this at the time, as the document describes. (Hi, ATF! So you read my stuff now?) 6) I have a series of emails between myself and the ATF, and a comment about the issue, so I may even be the commenter with which they started this section.
Where I seemingly differ from the “online author” is that no, the ATF did not provide me with direct weblinks to my comments. If that is me, as I think, then they lied. The last email I had from “The Office of Regulatory Affairs” was April 2, 2018, in which they said they’d fixed the problem. That email included the tracking numbers for my comments, but no links. I eventually dug up the direct links myself.
In fact, my last email to the ATF, in which I mentioned that a correspondent still couldn’t comment online — after the issue was supposedly addressed — went unanswered.
(And they gloss over the online commenting failure by claiming tnhat comments could have faxed their comments, ignoring the fact that they still would have had the wrong docket number.
But they lied about 1) BSTDs operate repeatedly with a single trigger pull, 2) BSTDs magically push the gun forward themselves, so why not lie about the rule-making process, as well?
Tomorrow I will offer some suggestions on compliance with this ban.
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