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DOJ Reclassifies Bump Fire Stocks as Machine Guns

By Dan Zimmerman via TTAG

In the post-Parkland hysteria, President Trump directed the Department of Justice to perform some regulatory legerdemain where bump fire stocks are concerned. The ATF had long ago passed on the stocks, deeming them perfectly legal accessories for semi-automatic rifles. Now, in a Saturday morning move apparently meant to fly under the radar . . .

The U.S. Department of Justice formally submitted a regulation on Saturday to ban “bump stocks,” a modification to high-capacity rifles that lets them fire like an automatic weapon.

President Donald Trump signed a memorandum in February directing the department to make the regulatory change, which must now be approved by the Office of Management and Budget before it is published and subject to a commentary period.

Nothing to worry about though…that will never get through Congress! Au contraire, mon frere. 

The move does not require congressional approval, allowing the administration to side-step what could have been insurmountable pressure from pro-gun groups such as the National Rifle Association that have worked to erode changes in firearm laws in the wake of mass shootings in Florida and Nevada.

It’s no biggie, though. Really, now many people own, or even want a bump fire stock? This won’t affect me!

Think again. If the DOJ can use regulatory fiat to bring their ban hammer down on bump fire stocks, magically deeming them machine guns, what’s to stop this or, more likely, some future administration from deciding that “high-capacity” 30-round magazines are also unacceptable modifications that facilitate “unnecessary” rates of fire? Or lighter, drop-in triggers? Anything that could plausibly be argued to increase a gun’s “standard” rate of fire.

The NRA was on board with regulating bump fire stocks in theory, but hadn’t signed on to this particular move. This sets a terrible regulatory precedent that will almost surely be expanded and abused again down the road. Will the NRA sue? Will SAF or the GOA?

We haven’t been able to get our mitts on the new DOJ regulatory language yet, but will publish it when it’s available. Stay tuned.

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