Second Amendment

ATF Flips on Bump Stock Ban, Some Gun Rights Groups Are Mad

Under Obama the ATF admitted that Congress denied it authority to ban bump-fire stocks on AR-15s, but now the ban seems imminent.



For nearly a decade, on precisely 10 different occasions, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) concluded that so-called bump-fire stocks on AR-15s and similar rifles are legal under federal law. Bump-fire stocks use the gun's recoil to increase the rate of fire.

But then came the October 2017 mass shooting of concert attendees in Las Vegas, where police said the shooter possessed bump fire stocks. Within weeks, the ATF abruptly reversed itself, with an endorsement from President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year.

Two gun rights groups today filed documents accusing the ATF of acting unlawfully by concealing evidence, exceeding authority granted by Congress, and ignoring the Second Amendment. Today is the last day to file comments on the ATF's proposed ban, which will take effect later this year—assuming it's not withdrawn or prevented from taking effect by a court challenge.

ATF's proposed ban, published March 29, would treat bump fire stocks as machine guns regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934. "Current possessors of these devices would be required to surrender them, destroy them, or otherwise render them permanently inoperable upon the effective date of the final rule," the ATF's announcement says.

Trump endorsed the federal ban—bump fire stocks are already illegal in California and some other states—in February. "We can do that with an executive order," Trump said at the time. "I'm going to write the bump stock, essentially, write it out. So you won't have to worry about bump stock[s]. Shortly that will be gone." The National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox endorsed Trump's position, saying in a statement that ATF should "immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law."

Today's lengthy filing by the two Second Amendment groups, the Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation, is likely to prove embarrassing to the ATF. It lays out a convincing argument that the agency had investigated bump-fire stocks in great detail, and, in sworn testimony and pleadings in federal district court, concluded that they were perfectly legal under federal law.

During the Obama administration, an era not known for its aggressive pro-gun advocacy, the ATF even went beyond that statement—and concluded that Congress had denied it the authority to classify bump-fire stocks as machine guns. A 2013 letter from the ATF to Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) said flatly that "ATF does not have the authority to restrict their lawful possession, use, or transfer." Anti-gun Democrats have echoed this, with Sen. Dianne Feinstein saying on Twitter last fall: "The ATF lacks authority under the law to ban bump-fire stocks. Period. Legislation is the only answer and Congress shouldn't pass the buck."

The filing by the Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation points out videos, some available on YouTube, that show how to fire an unmodified AR-15 faster and more accurately than a bump-fire stocks. One technique shows how to achieve "the same result" with a simple rubber band, which is apparently not banned by the ATF's proposal.

Finally, it argues that there is no evidence the Las Vegas shooter used a firearm outfitted with a bump fire stock. The groups acknowledge that the Las Vegas police's preliminary report, released in January, indicates that some weapons found in the Mandalay Bay hotel room were outfitted with devices similar to bump-fire stocks. But, they say, the report never says that those particular guns were used during the crime. (The two groups filed an expedited Freedom of Information Act request with the ATF and FBI on this point, but report that, as of today, neither agency has confirmed the use of a bump-fire stock in the commission of any crime. Both agencies are involved in the Las Vegas investigation.)

"Because of the federal rulemaking process [the Administrative Procedure Act] and the possibility of litigation with procedural claims, we wanted to provide a robust comment in opposition to the ban that was supported by evidence," says Firearms Policy Coalition president Brandon Combs. "What's unique about this issue is how clear, I think, the statutes are."

If Trump wishes to ban bump-fire stocks, the path seems straightforward: Ask Congress to do it. As Reason's Jacob Sullum wrote earlier this year, "the route Trump has chosen is not just indirect and uncertain; it is dishonest and unprincipled." That criticism also applies to Sessions, who presents himself as a conservative committed to defending the Constitution and the separation of powers.

Rep. Thomas Massie, the Kentucky Republican who leads the congressional Second Amendment Caucus, told Reason last fall: "It is the height of legislative malpractice to ask the executive branch to legislate… It will come back to bite us, and it erodes the system of government that the Founding Fathers intended to set up."

You can file comments on the ATF's proposed bump-fire ban, docket ATF-2018-0002, using until midnight ET tonight.

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  1. So much #winning! Way to go, Trump, you moron

    1. “We are winning with trade.”

      “We are winning at the border.”

      “We are winning with guns.”

      “We are winning with North Korea.”

      “We are winning with the economy.”

      “We are winning with the judges.”

      “We are winning with Neil Gorsuch.”

      “We are winning with the jobs.”

      “We are winning with the fake news.”

      “We are winning with the military.”

      “We are winning with the NFL.”

      1. “We are winning with guns.”

        Nah. Not according to this article. I assure you this won’t stop with bump stocks

        1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

        2. I’ve got exactly ZERO more gun rights since Trump was elected (ie, no national CCR, not that is particularly an extension of rights but it would at least allow me to not break the law when I leave AZZ).

          But, he still ain’t Hillary. I have to be happy about that.

      2. “We are winning with the NFL.”

        When’s your team in the playoffs?

  2. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $30h ? $72h?how? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new? after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier.Check it out here? >>

    1. At the end of July, which should give Trump and the senate enough time to put his replacement on the bench before November, just in case the vermin happen to win the election.

      I would like to humbly submit my suggestions of Don Willett or Janice Rogers Brown to be Kennedy’s replacement.

      1. At some point Trump’s going to buck at the idea he’s taking advice from anybody other than his very good brain and he’s going to nominate somebody like his good friend Judge Wapner. Or Judge Reinhold.

      2. I doubt Don Willett since he just got put up to the federal appeals court.

    2. Oh, shit. The Left is going to get even more insane. Kennedy really took a dump on Democrats this term

      1. Wait until Trump puts another originalist on the SCOTUS.

        Thomas might resign after a replacement for Kennedy is confirmed by the Senate. This way there are 5 relatively young conservative justices on the Court going into mid-terms.

        RBG was a fool not to retire when Obama was prez and Democrats held the Senate. She is the oldest justice and will never outlive Trump’s 8 years as president.

        1. If I were a Republican Senator right now, I’d buy guns. If the Left can’t handle losing elections, I can’t imagine how apoplectic they’ll be over losing any control on the Supreme Court

          1. And get fitted for really comfortable custom body armor. If you can be pretty goddamn sure that you’re going to be getting shot at, and you have the scratch, it probably makes sense to drop $10k on a nice vest.

        2. Trump will probably die of old age before finishing a second term. Trump has that bloated look and at his age that’s the look of death. Just sayin.

          1. All the presidents age prematurely.

            Its a shitty job which is why you should be suspect of anyone wanting to do it with so much enthusiasm unless they are trying to roll back government.

            Trump has done a great job overall but he is only one person to rollback the leviathan.

          2. Obama’s favorite doctor said he was healthy. Some people drop in their 60’s, some people live into their 80’s, and healthy living, regrettably, doesn’t have a lot to do with it. Most centenarians have VERY bad habits. They’re just genetically so tough it doesn’t matter.

        3. Dear President Trump,

          Another constitutional originalist SCJ please.


        4. Let the liberal tears flow and the schadenfreude begin.

    3. Honestly Republicans should appoint an AR-15 to the bench to truly own the libs

  3. sent this to the linked comments area for

    The proposed bump stock ban by the executive branch is an unconstitutional infringement upon this:

    “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.”

    and this:

    “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.”

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    1. … so you want them to just ignore your complaint?

      Because – and note I say this as a dedicated Constitutionalist and 2A enthusiast – that is the least effective argument ever, both legally and practically.

      (“But infringement!”, alone, is not a real argument.

      Especially when the Supreme Court has been quite happy to let the National Firearms Act stand, for nearly a century.

      “This ban exceeds statutory authority by rewriting Congress’ definitions” is the sort of argument that both Courts and Regulatory Oversight People can actually work with.)

  4. So we have Trump arguing that he has to separate children from parents because that is the letter of the law but then says fuck the law when it comes to guns. Well ain’t gonna let this get me down because Janus won! Tomorrow is another day for getting fresh rage inducing news, believe me.

  5. II Amendment: 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 includes bump stocks and any other weapon or weapon accessories that can be created in the future.

    1. That includes bump stocks and any other weapon or weapon accessories that can be created in the future.

      That doesn’t include non-weapons that we can arbitrarily regulate for lulz. /ATF

    2. See above comment. “Shall not be infringed, SO I WIN!!!” is not effective, convincing, or even an actual argument.

      Nobody farkin’ knows what counts as “infringement” or not.

      The Supreme Court certainly doesn’t think that the Hughes Amendment is unconstitutional, nor the National Firearms Act.

      (I’d argue that the former really is patently unconstitutional, in that it effectively makes it impossible for Joe Citizen to own a machinegun, since it fixes supply to eternally shrink, slowly.

      But “the NFA’s registration and – in 2018 dollars – not-especially-high tax stamp is an unconstitutional infringement and not mere acceptable regulation” is not obvious, and needs thorough argumentation rather than mere assertion.

      [I won’t say “it is not infringement!”, because as I said, we honestly have nothing like a clear definition of what counts or doesn’t, either in precedent or contemporary commentary, that I’ve ever seen. Maybe it should be considered an infringement – but we haven’t figured that out yet.]

      A bump stock ban is another issue entirely, because Congress didn’t even pass a law to do that; the ATF is just rewriting the NFA’s terms to fit bump stocks, and that cannot be tolerated – not simply because it “infringes the Second Amendment” so much as “because it’s a fundamental issue of how state power works”.)

      1. “Nobody farkin’ knows what counts as “infringement” or not.”

        Ahem: act so as to limit or undermine (something); encroach on.

        That’s pretty clear. Literally anything that limits is an infringement. It’s just that the Court doesn’t care what words mean that there’s any confusion on the subject.

  6. So the ATF now says they were misinterpreting the rule they were relying on for all those years? You know, the EPA said the same thing many years ago in a case known as Chevron, where they argued they weren’t making a new rule – new rules requiring due process under the APA including notice and comment and so on – but merely re-interpreting an existing rule, which re-interpretation just happened to be the exact opposite of what they had been saying all along. And SCOTUS said “who are we to second-guess the interpretation of the rules by the very agency who’s making the rules?”. And until about a week ago, it looked like SCOTUS was satisfied to let this shit stand. Maybe this case might be the one where the Supremes finally decide to reverse Chevron, tell the ATF and every other agency they can’t get away with suddenly “discovering” new interpretations of old rules that totally aren’t new rules.

  7. “Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is to retire, giving President Donald Trump the chance to reshape the top US court for decades to come.”

    You won’t need a link.

  8. Slide Fire went out of business, they’re no longer being produced. Is there a reason they can’t just walk away from the issue?

    1. Not so long as there are progressives out there looking to signal something.

      If it weren’t bump stocks, they’d be trying to force Christian fundamentalists to bake cakes for gay weddings or some equally ridiculous signal.

      In San Francisco, they tried to ban Happy Meals and circumcision in response to Prop 8 passing. None of it really has much to do with the issues involved. It’s just shots across the bow in the culture war. It’s a lesser version of this election cycle’s Terri Schiavo. Everybody remember that?

      What could be more important than bump stocks and Stormy Daniels!!!

      1. It ain’t stocks that Stormy bumps!

    2. Anyone else could start making them!

      I mean, it ain’t rocket surgery, nor do you even really need a special stock to bump-fire …

  9. Hardly anyone knew they wanted a bump stock until people started trying to ban it.

  10. ATF Works With FBI and VA To Disarm Veterans – New documents obtained by The Daily Caller reveal that ATF, a division of the Department of Justice, is working with the FBI and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to enter veterans who get VA benefits into the government’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. So, if different agencies swap memos around to each other, then you need to sue them to get the documents under public disclosure law?

    “As I predicted the assault on veterans’ 2nd Amendment rights was just the beginning,” Connelly said. “Social Security recipients would be next. The LA Times has confirmed it. Sometimes I hate it when I am right.”

  11. ATF wants to Cut Gun Control Regulations – They Should Eliminate Themselves..
    For those who tell me we can’t just eliminate the agency because it would be too tough, and you know it’s an illegal agency, I ask a simple question, would you use the same logic with a common criminal? Would you allow him to stop some crime, but allow him to continue others with respect for his status as a criminal? That is exactly what we are doing with many of these unconstitutional agencies inside our government.…..hemselves/

  12. Machine guns are basically illegal. Making mechanical add ons that turn semis into machine guns should be illegal on the same grounds.

    If you want to argue that machine guns should be legal, fine. But consistent law is a good thing.

    1. Bump Stocks don’t turn semi-automatics into automatics (machine guns).

      The law is consistent.

    2. Machine guns are not illegal. It is just that the current unconstitutional laws restrict ownership to very rich individuals. You know, equal rights and all that jazz. If you have a bunch of bucks, you can hire a lawyer to guide you through the process as an individual, to set up a ‘gun trust’ (really!), or form an LLC. It involves a whole lot of time and money, but fortunately we do not have to treat all citizens the same.

      Consistent law would mean eliminating all infringement on the second amendment.

  13. This was one of Trumps biggest bitch moves. He should have known by ignoring the whining from the left that they would eventually just move along to the next outrage after a few weeks… Which is EXACTLY what they did. If he’d just kept completely silent on the subject, nobody would care and they’d still be legal, and pro gun people would be happier with him.

  14. I assume Trump thought that he could just toss it to the BATF, and after the hysteria fell off they’d just conclude the same as always.

    What he failed to account for was that the BATF is loaded with committed anti-gunners who are only too glad to try to drive a wedge between Trump and his pro-gun supporters. They don’t care that the ban will fail if challenged in court, it’s just to make him look bad to gun owners.

    Sure, he should have blown them off explicitly instead of just trying to run out the clock. He does make mistakes occasionally.

    I don’t think this will hurt Trump much because gun owners understand what’s going on here, know the alternative to Trump is going to be much, much worse, and because, frankly, bump stocks are stupid.

    1. Except it wasnt the BATFE that wrote the proposed regulation. It was Jeff Sessions, at Trump’s behest.

  15. They are moving to ban bump stocks because most gun owners do not care. As is pointed out, you can get the same result with a rubber band. The one truth about the US that has never changed is there is always someone ready to build a better mousetrap. In 2013, the FBI forwarded the names of 632,000 persons who attempted to purchase a gun who were barred under federal law. The penalty for attempting to buy a gun is 10 yrs in prison and a $10,000 fine. Of the 632,000 people, the anti gun Holder DOJ prosecuted 16. There is your problem with federal gun laws. Democrats always oppose any attempt to strengthen any enforcement of gun laws because they want the current laws to fail so they can move closer to their true goal, banning and confiscating all guns in private hands. You cannot impose your political will on people with the means to resist. ” The only protection from the excesses of government is the right of the people to keep and bear arms” – Alexander Hamilton – Federalist #29

  16. Where is are motherfucking suppressor rights?! Am I to go deaf??

    1. What?

      Oh, you aren’t rich enough for the second amendment to apply to you, so shut up.

  17. Man I wish I could resurrect Stephen Paddock. I would resurrect him, then beat him to death, and then do it all over again. Because of that moron we will no longer deregulate suppressors and americans will continue to go deaf, and further we are now asking citizens to burn and destroy property that was legally purchased…when has that EVER happened before? Name me one instance where a citizen was required to destroy something that they bought and legally owned? I can’t come up with a single example. Thanks Trump, you friggin sellout.

    1. New York for firearms.
      The whole United States for whiskey.
      Is two enough?

  18. It argues that there is no evidence the Las Vegas shooter used a firearm outfitted with a bump fire stock.
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