On December 18, 2018, Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announced that the Department of Justice has amended the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), clarifying that bump stocks fall within the definition of “machinegun” under federal law, as such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.
The Final Rule
The rule will go into effect March 26, 2019; 90 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
The final rule clarifies that the definition of “machinegun” in the Gun Control Act (GCA) and National Firearms Act (NFA) includes bump-stock-type devices, i.e., devices that allow a semiautomatic firearm 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.
What To Do
Current possessors of bump-stock-type devices must divest themselves of possession as of the effective date of the final rule (March 26, 2019).
One option is to destroy the device, and the final rule identifies possible methods of destruction, to include completely melting, shredding, or crushing the device. Any method of destruction must render the device incapable of being readily restored to function.
Current possessors also have the option to abandon bump-stock-type devices at the nearest ATF office. ATF advises that it is best to make an appointment beforehand with the nearest ATF office.
On February 20, 2018, President Trump issued a memorandum instructing the Attorney General “to dedicate all available resources to… propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.”
In response to that direction the Department reviewed more than 186,000 public comments and made the decision to make clear that the term “machinegun” as used in the National Firearms Act (NFA), as amended, and Gun Control Act (GCA), as amended, includes all bump-stock-type devices that harness recoil energy to facilitate the continuous operation of a semiautomatic long gun after a single pull of the trigger.