DOJ has finally released a notice of proposed rulemaking (“Notice”) that would effectively ban “bump stocks,” “slide-fire” devices, “and devices with certain similar characteristics.” As originally announced, DOJ intends to clarify that all bump stock devices are “machineguns” under the Gun Control Act (“GCA”) and National Firearms Act (“NFA”). The Notice contends in large part that the “single function of the trigger,” when using a bump stock-equipped firearm, transforms the function of a semiautomatic firearm into that of a “machinegun.”
The Notice proposed by DOJ is made up of three separate parts:
- The statutory definition of “machinegun” (set forth in the NFA) includes “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 U.S.C. 5845(b)). DOJ proposes to clarify that the phrase “single function of the trigger” means “single pull of the trigger.”
- The term “automatically” will be defined to mean “as the result of a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism that allows the firing of multiple rounds through a single pull of the trigger.”
- DOJ intends to clarify that the definition of “machinegun” includes a device that allows semiautomatic firearms to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger by harnessing the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm to which it is affixed so that the trigger resets and continues firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter (commonly known as bump-stock-type devices).
If the rulemaking goes into effect, prior ATF rulings on devices covered by the Notice would immediately be supplanted by the new rule and current owners of bump stock devices would be required to “dispose” of the devices. It should be noted, however, that DOJ has not stated a final rule for acceptable methods of disposal or whether persons owning such devices will be able to receive any form of compensation.