Never Go Full ATF – Analysis Of Bump Stock Ban

    Well the time has come and the ATF has ruled on Bump Stock devices and they are now saying they are now considered machine guns. If you have missed this staggering news, check it out here. I have taken a look at the entire 157 page document and will break down critical parts. Lets go down the rabbit hole of lunacy together.

    Moving The Goal Posts

    Reading this document is not fun, but necessary to understand or at least see how the ATF came to their conclusions. The beginning of the document explains how they are c̶h̶a̶n̶g̶i̶n̶g̶  adding to their definition of what is a machine gun and what is a bump stock device.

    Below is the section where they back pedal on their previous decisions made on bump stocks.

    Pages 4 & 5

    What is this 2006 example they are referring to? In the excerpt they mention “internal springs” and that is a clue. They are referring to the infamous Akins Accelerator.

    The Akins Accelerator is similar in concept to a bump stock. It uses recoil to shift the firearm and pushes the trigger back and forth into the trigger finger. However unlike a bump stock, the Akins Accelerator does not require manual forward pressure to be manipulated. Rather a spring was used to create forward pressure. Here is the crucial difference between the Accelerator and the bump stock. A mechanical device was required to operate the device.

    However on pages 15 & 16 they mention Akins’ lawsuit and that the decision to ban the accelerator was upheld because it “protects the public from dangerous firearms”

    In this section, the ATF is saying “constant forward pressure with the non-trigger hand” is the equivalent of an internal spring. Um no, no it is not. You can stop pushing forward with your hand but you can’t stop the spring unless you grab the barrel or receiver of the 10/22 while it is shooting with the Akins Accelerator.

    Page 9 & 10

    Here is where the ATF is moving the goal posts. They are c̶h̶a̶n̶g̶i̶n̶g̶  adding to the definition of what is a Machine Gun.

    Below the ATF is trying to justify their claim based on the lack of physical manipulation of the trigger finger.

    Page 11

    Page 17 The ATF provides two examples where trigger devices were denied based on the premise that the shooter does not release pressure from the trigger.

    So now they are c̶h̶a̶n̶g̶i̶n̶g̶ adding to definitions some more. Previously the ATF used the definition “Single function of the trigger” but now they want to use “single pull of the trigger”. It seems like an innocuous shift in vocabulary but it is part of the house of cards they built to come up with a way to ban the bump stock.

    Moving that goal post just a little more, who’s going to notice?

    Pages 21-22 the ATF is now redefining the term “automatically” to include the single pull of the trigger.

    The last part is very important. “not that the self-acting mechanism produces . . . without any additional action by the shooter”. They are negating the entire function of the bump stock and the fact that it needs manual input from the shooter in the form of constant forward pressure. What about hand cranks then? At the moment, hand cranks are legal. Old timey machine guns, like the original Gatling gun is not considered a machine gun because it does not shoot automatically. But according to this, it could now be considered a machine gun.

    Stop Asking The Peanut Gallery

    Pages 24-25 mention the NPRM comments. 119,264 comments were in support of the ban while only 66,182 comments were opposed. There were 657 comments that were basically useless.

     

    Why are they accepting comments from Foreign Nationals? Why would their opinion matter at all? Is this that Russian manipulation people get so upset about?

    Then the Document lists the reasons raised in support of the Rule.

    1. Threat To Public Safety

    On Page 27 the Department responds with this gem.

    Yes, you read that right. A bump stock can “empower a single individual to take many lives”. Oh really now? Because last time I checked, a guy with a truck killed more people in Nice, France than the jagoff in Vegas.

    So how come the U.S. Department Of Transportation isn’t trying to ban trucks? No one needs a truck. Yes it sounds just as stupid when you apply it to trucks or guns. And yet here we have an entire section on Pages 27-29 on how “no one needs a bump stock”.

    2. Unnecessary for Civilians to Own

    I have a serious problem with this line of reasoning. Where does it stop? Who makes the decision of who needs any given item? Just because it is unnecessary does not mean it does not have value. Entertainment is a big reason people own these. Is it practical? Not really but that is subjective. A guy allegedly armed with firearms equipped with bump stocks managed to kill a lot of people. But he was not as efficient as a guy with a truck. People need to think beyond “well you don’t need one” because it only applies to something they see no value in. But people find value in many different things, just because you don’t does not validate you to ban it.

    3. Consistent with the Intent of the National Firearms Act

    No it is not a machine gun. Not even if you say that bump stocks now identify as machine guns. They are still a stock and you still pull the trigger for every shot. Sure your trigger finger does not reset or release pressure. But guess what else works in a similar fashion? Slam Fire firearms.You press the trigger and don’t let go. Then you pump the action and as soon as the bolt closes, the firearm fires again. Other than the fact that the rearward motion of the action is manipulated manually the process is similar in the lens of the ATF. They are talking about the trigger finger not releasing pressure and utilizing the recoil energy of the weapon.

    4. Constitutional Under the Second Amendment

    There is so much stupidity here it pains me physically. Last I checked this is what the second amendment says and there is no mention of banning things.

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    That last part seems clear cut and dry to me. But somehow this ban is constitutional?  Let’s not even mention how it violates the Fifth Amendment.

    . . . nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

    5. Absence of Congressional Action

     

    If number 4 was idiotic then this is a whole other level of stupid. 1,500 morons is partially how you came to the conclusion to ban the bump stock? Who’s stupid now? Why did they even bother to quote that one commenter who talks about being afraid to go to school is “un-american”. Um that’s not a thing. Manage your emotions better? Start demanding actual measures to protect children. Oh and lets ignore the fact that no child has been killed by a firearm equipped with a bump stock as far as I know. No school shooting has ever used a bump stock.

    Opposing Comments

    If you go back to the Peanut Gallery comments in support of the ban, it is mostly individuals and an organization. A lot of the responses were single sentence responses. While they mention an FFL, former military and an NRA member, most of the comments are by unimportant people. Who have no knowledge of what they are doing.

    Below the ATF identifies that many of the opposing comments were submitted by lawyers, judges, industry groups or members of law enforcement and military.

    See that last paragraph? “The Department believes that bump-stock-type devices satisfy the definition of ‘machine gun’ . . .”. Again this isn’t like gender identity. You can’t just decide “Oh you know what? I identify a bump stock as a machine gun” and force everyone to believe your delusion. What’s worse is that this delusion carries legal ramifications for people in possession of a bump stock. You can believe whatever you want. You were a boy and now a girl? Fine. Good for you. That’s not my problem. But a bump stock is now a machine gun? That is everyone’s problem. Even if you don’t care about bump stocks or have one. This is a slippy slope. (Yes I lived in Pittsburgh and will use the vernacular. There is another instance previously, did you catch it?) What is to stop the Government from deciding you shouldn’t have something else?  Under the false pretenses it is for public safety?

    1. Violates the Second Amendment

    The highest opposing comment was that the ban would violate the second amendment. They cite Heller and Caetano cases.

    Here is the ATF’s response.

    Where to begin? Machine guns are not protected by the second amendment? What about all those transferable machine guns in the registry?

     machineguns, like short-barreled shotguns, are “weapons not typically
    possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes

    Im pretty sure people who have registered SBS and transferrable machineguns are law-abiding citizens using them for lawful purposes. When have you heard of someone committing any violent crime with an legally registered and owned NFA item?

    They go on to cite Hollis v. Lynch and I would argue that machine guns are not dangerous and are quite common in number and use. Just look at how many FFLs there are in the country that have post sample machine guns and other NFA items. While technically they are FFLs and not individuals, it is still individuals utilizing machine guns for lawful purposes. There are more than you think there are and they are all around you. Even in states that are extremely restrictive, got an FFL? Sure you can have machine guns with the proper paperwork and fees paid. Sounds pretty common place to me.

    The ATF goes on regurgitating their delusion that the bump stock converts a semi-automatic firearm to fire “automatically”. No, no it doesn’t. Again you need manual forward pressure to bump fire. As soon as you stop pushing forward, the gun will stop shooting. With an actual machine gun, they only stop if you let go of the trigger, run out of ammo, or it malfunctions. You can shoot them automatically with one hand. Try shooting a bump fire stock equipped firearm one handed. Can you recreate the “automatic” firing sequence without your support hand? No you cannot. It is NOT machine gun.

    2. Violates Fifth Amendment

    I won’t post the department response because it is extremely long. But you can read it for yourself on pages 41-45.

    They are using the argument that they can take what they want if it serves the public’s interest and do not have to compensate the owner’s for it. They use some odd examples like red wood trees, alcohol and pit bulls. Yes the government seized pit bulls for the “safety of the community” and then killed them. All without compensating the owners. Click here to read about that. Although this was a state matter and not a federal case. It does not apply here, so I am not sure why they bring it up.

    Then the ATF uses the Akins case as defense for not compensating since it involved machine guns and basically since Akins “voluntarily entered an area subject to pervasive federal regulation-the manufacture and sale of firearms.” What does any of that have to do with a private citizen and their personal property? Other than the few of us with FFLs, everyone else is not in the manufacturing or selling of firearms.

    Then they go on to cite other opposing comments like the California Ninth Circuit and how they did not allow a ban on magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. The ATF’s excuse is “well its a machine gun so it is not subject to the same protection and we can take it all we want.” Also each owner of a bump stock does not have a right to due process because it is a machine gun. See page 45.

    4. Violates The 4th Amendment

    That whole section can be summed up as:

    Commenter: “It violates the 4th amendment”

    ATF: “No it doesnt. If you want to keep your bump stock you can keep your bump stock, you just have to destroy it”

    Uh huh. That is some sound logic there.

    I will summarize the next following series of comments.

    On page 58, the ATF addresses the comment that this ban is Politically motivated and Emotional response. The refute this based on the fact that is is reasonable to review its classification on bump stock like devices.

    Pages 59-62 talks about how Bump Stocks are not used in criminal activity. And rather than address that issue they place the blame on Congress and the public demanding the ATF review its classification. And after their “extensive legal analysis” the bump stock devices are a machine gun so your arguments are invalid.

    Page 62-64 Will Not Enhance Public safety. The opposing comments suggest that bump stocks would cause a shooter to miss or cause the firearm to malfunction. Then there were comments about how new regulation will not deter crime, look at Chicago and the ATF should focus on enforcing existing laws. The ATF responds with that they are committed to addressing significant violent crime problems our communities. But since a bump stock is now a machine gun, it poses a public threat.

    Page 64-65 Punishes Law-Abiding Citizens. We would become instant felons. ATF response is that you all have 90 days to destroy or turn them in. Also they don’t have to compensate you for it. “As described in Part IV.D. l .b, this is not a compensable “taking” of property under the Constitution.”

    Page 65-66 is where the opposing comments goes off the deep end. It talks about mental health, violent video games, bibles in school or the lack thereof, and that the government should investigate social changes that turns men into killers. They do also mention securing schools like the capitol and improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The ATF acknowledges these issues but it is outside the scope of this ruling.

    Page 66-68 Enforcement and Compliance. These comments point out that many will not comply and ask if the ATF will send armed agents to people’s homes. They point out that other states have tried banning bump stocks and have failed. Another series of comments mention that people can make their own bump stocks. Although they miss the elephant in the room. You don’t need a bump stock to bump fire a gun. Rubber bands and belt loops will work just as well. So rather than address any of this, the ATF explains in detail how to destroy machine guns. Use a torch on in the case of plastic devices, a hammer can be used. But you can melt, shred or crush them. Then they add this little gem.

    Current possessors are encouraged to undertake destruction of the devices.
    However, current possessors also have the option to abandon bump-stock-type devices at the nearest ATF office.

    Oh, and you have 90 days to comply.

    Page 68-69 Lack of Consistency charges the ATF with being inconsistent and how can the public trust them? The ATF response is that they can change their mind based on Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass ‘n v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 42 (1983) and refer to the fact they are further defining machine guns and bump stocks are now machine guns.

    bump-stock-type devices because they convert an otherwise semiautomatic firearm into a machinegun 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.

    They keep regurgitating this line. No additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter? You have to manually push the gun forward, which is connected to the trigger. If you don’t do that, the gun stops shooting. Try shooting a bump stock equipped firearm with just your firing hand. It cannot shoot automatically. Rather than manipulating the trigger with your trigger finger, you are pushing the gun forward every time. Constant forward pressure is actually not going to make the gun fire. If you push forward too much, it overcomes the recoil and the gun stops shooting because your finger is still on the trigger and the trigger has not reset. Bump firing takes a special cadence and finesse to get it to work. That is not how machine guns work.

    Page 69-72 Earlier Determinations Correct. These comments point out that the ATF’s previous classifications on bump stocks were the correct one and is bound by this. However the ATF has already explained that they can change their mind in that Motor Vehicle Mfrs Assn case. And they can further add definition to “machine gun”

    Bump Firing and Bump-Stock-Type Device Operation

    Page 72-77 a. Bump-Stock-Type Device Operation.

    This is where the comments get into my issues I brought up. The physical nature of the bump stock. No part of the bump stock touches the trigger and if the bump stock makes the firearm a machine gun, it should fire automatically with just the firing hand.

    One commenter said that should A TF 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.

    They also bring up the fact that there are methods to bump fire without a bump fire stock and even though they are more challenging to master, they can be done. Then the comments address the fundamental mechanics of recoil vs mechanical means of storing energy. Since the ATF is using “self-regulating mechanism that harnesses the recoil energy” as part of their new machine gun definition. But this isn’t like a spring that stores energy. If you stop pushing forward, it stops shooting. The manual manipulation of the trigger is replaced with the manual forward pressure.

    Here is their response.

    bump stock devices are designed to allow the shooter to maintain a continuous firing cycle after a single pull of the trigger by directing the recoil energy of the discharged rounds into the space created by the sliding stock (approximately 1.5 inches) in constrained linear rearward and forward paths.”

    I have no idea what they are talking about. Directing the recoil energy into the space created by the sliding stock. What is this moon speak?

    The bump-stock-type device captures and harnesses the firearm’s recoil to maintain a continuous firing sequence, and thus is properly described as “a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism.”

    It captures and harnesses recoil? How?  Please show me the physics of this. Just because people believe in the energy in crystals doesn’t mean they exist. And just because the ATF believes it stores and harnesses recoil doesn’t make it so. Springs store and harness energy. But there is no spring. Here is some more ATF malarkey.

    The very purpose of a bump-stock-type device is to eliminate the need for the shooter to manually capture, harness, or otherwise utilize this energy to fire additional rounds, as one would have to do to “bump fire” without a bumpstock-type device.

    What? Never go “Full ATF”. How does one manually capture or harness recoil energy when bump firing without a bump stock? Can someone explain this to me and not simply “because we say its so”. And then they go on to regurgitate that the bump stock allows multiple rounds fired with a single function of the trigger. So it is a machine gun and you are all wrong. Its like having a debate with a child.

    Oh the part about the bump stock not touching the trigger? Yeah that does’t count because bump stocks are “a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism”. Touching the trigger has nothing to do with machine guns.

    But wait! What about the shoe string machine gun? That touches the trigger.

    What about shooting machine guns with one hand? Well that doesn’t matter in the context of “automatically” because “their design eliminates the requirement that a shooter manually capture and
    direct recoil energy to fire additional rounds.” So it is a machine gun. Yes that is their actual argument. See a recurring theme here?

    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 nontrigger 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.

    Ok, so what about slam firing guns like the Winchester 97 and Ithaca 37? There is NO further manipulation of those triggers. Constant rearward pressure. And all the manipulation is done with the non-trigger hand.

    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.

    Wrong. Because Jerry Miculek. He can pull a trigger as fast as a bump fire stock.

     

    b. Bump-Stock-Type Device Firing Technique

    Page 77-79: And here is where they talk about bump firing without a bump stock device and “people’s fingers”.

    Commenters therefore argued that if the Department proceeds to prohibit
    possession of bump-stock-type devices they must also ban rubber bands, belt loops,
    string, or even people’s fingers.

    Here is their response.

    belt loops that are designed for a different primary purpose

    They go on to explain how one fires a weapon using a belt loop. But this is pointless because bump stock devices are self regulating and belt loops are not. Also belt loops do not “capture and direct recoil energy”. Yeah they are sticking to that old line of reasoning. I am still waiting for them to prove how the bump stock stores and harnesses this energy. Just because you say it is so, doesn’t make it true.

    What about people like Jerry Miculek with God-like fingers?

    Again, this differs from traditional semiautomatic firearms because the trigger must be repeatedly manipulated by the shooter to fire additional rounds, whereas a bump-stock-type device allows for a single pull, and the self-acting or self-regulating device automatically re-engages the trigger finger.

    That last part still doesn’t make sense. What single pull? Is it because your trigger finger is holding constant pressure on the ledge? Doesn’t matter. You are still pushing the trigger into your shooting finger every shot. And I refer back to the slam fire shotguns. I wonder how hand cranks are not mentioned since there is not pulling of a trigger with a finger?

    The following series of comments discuses rate of fire, and that was easily shot down since rate of fire is not a defining characteristics of what constitutes a machine gun.

    b. Vagueness – Impact on Semiautomatic Firearms and Other Firearm Accessories

    There is considerable amount of concern that this ruling could leave the door open to banning semi-auto firearms based on the “single pull of the trigger” definition now applied to machine guns. Also this new ruling could affect competition triggers and binary triggers.

    The ATF has this to say about Binary triggers:

    While semiautomatic firearms may shoot one round when the trigger is pulled, the shooter must release the trigger before another round is fired. Even if this release results in a second shot being fired, it is as the result of a separate function of the trigger. This is also the reason that binary triggers cannot be classified as machineguns” under the rule–one function of the trigger results in the firing of only
    one round.

    But could they change their mind later? Not according to a lawyer that I spoke with. This ruling is not something they want to do. It was handed down from up high and they had to come through. Remind you of something?

     

    Oh and slam fire doesn’t count since you have to manually load the firearm.

    Page 89 is the beginning of the compensation argument and grandfathering of bump stocks. Comments suggested an amnesty for owners to register their bump stocks just like street sweepers and USAS-12.

    Sadly since “bump stocks are a machine gun” there can be no amnesty. Thanks Hughes Amendment and FOPA. (sarcasm with intense loathing)

    What about Compensation?

    See bottom of page 92 and top of page 93.

    Sorry they don’t have the money or ability to do any of that.

    the Department does not have the necessary Federal appropriations to implement a buy-back program or offer monetary compensation. To implement a buy-back program or provide a tax credit would require congressional action.

    But make sure you destroy them or turn them in within 90 days. Ok? Thanks.

    What if you neuter the bump stock by removing the finger ledge?

    One commenter wondered if removing the finger ledge would satisfy the ATF and make it not a machine gun.

    removing the ledge does nothing to prevent the directing of the “recoil energy of the discharged rounds into the space created by the sliding stock (approximately 1.5 inches) in constrained linear rearward and forward paths.”

    And the ATF is back to their mythical argument about capturing recoil.

    So, what if you install the bump stock with a spacer between the buffer tube and rear of the bump stock. That way it cannot slide back and forth?

    You can have one new regulation if you remove two old ones.

    Page 95 talks about their failure to comply with executive orders 12866, 13563, and 13771 including failing to identify and repeal two regulations for every new regulation issued.

    What was the ATF’s response? You guessed it. Bump stocks are machine guns and there fore a matter of public safety. So we can do what we want. Oh and they never address the two for one deal at all. So we have no idea what two old regulations they repealed to get this one.

    The rest of the document is just boring information and redundant arguments that “bump stocks are machine guns”

    Conclusion

    They are not allowing any grandfathering. I argue that these should be treated like a shoestring or coat hanger. Which both can be modified to make a machine gun.  But if they are not installed on the firearm, it is not a machine gun. With regards to the shoe string, a piece of paracord could function similarly but they have another function. Here is where I believe the ATF is ignoring a blatant issue and it was not brought up by a comment as far as I could tell, at least not in this document. It has to do with “other purpose”.  The ATF touches on this when they discuss using belt loops to bump fire. One could argue that the Bump Stock is a stock and grip first and a bump firing device second. I found the Slide Fire SSAR stock to actually be a very nice stock. In fact, the SSAR has a revolving base plate in the bottom of the grip. Rotate it 180 degrees to allow the stock to slide or lock it out and use it as a rigid stock. See the little lever looking thing between the grip and leading edge of the stock? That increases tension between the stock and buffer tube thus making the stock more rigid to aid in increased accuracy. These features do not seem in line with “bump stocks primary function is to be a machine gun”. The ATF ignores this fact entirely.

     

    Their biggest problem is the lack of compensation and there was one issue mentioned. In one of the comments regarding the Violation of the takings clause (see page 40) the commenters cited Horne v. Department of Agriculture, 135 S. Ct. 2419, 2428 (2015). However the ATF never addressed this. According to my lawyer friend, this is a huge oversight. They have to consider everything submitted. That is why they have to address every little comment good or bad, no matter how stupid it is. But they did not address this particular citing.

    At the moment there is a lawsuit filed against the ATF by Joshua Prince and Adam Kraut about the banning of bump stocks. Click here to read about it.

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]


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