ATF Association: Bump Stocks Do Not Convert Semiautomatics into Automatics

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In a letter dated October 12, the ATF Association informed lawmakers that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) approved bump stocks because they do not turn a semiautomatic rifle into “a machine gun.”

The letter contains explanations of basic points for lawmakers–like the fact that a semiautomatic only shoots one round each time the trigger is pulled and bump stocks to not change this basic action. And it also seeks to defend the integrity of the ATF by explaining that the body of laws governing machine guns has been in place since 1934 and that body of laws dictates when and how an accessory crosses the line into Class III territory.

The ATF Association letter was written by the group’s president, Michael Bouchard, who said:

The National Firearms Act of 1934, Title 26 U.S.C. 5845(b) defines a “machine gun” as any combination of parts designed and intended for use in converting a weapon to shoot automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. ATF also holds that any item that can cause a firearm to fire more than one shot by the single function of the trigger is also regulated as a machine gun.

The Las Vegas killer used a “bump slide” accessory that attaches to the stock of a semi-automatic rifle and enhances the rate at which the shooter can pull the trigger on the firearm. This increases the rate of fire close to that of an actual machine gun. However, under the current law, it does not make it a machine gun.

The definitions separating a semiautomatic and an automatic are most crucial for readers and lawmakers to understand.  A semiautomatic fires one round–and only one round–each time the trigger is pulled. An automatic fires continuously with one pull of the trigger. A bump stock allows a trigger to be pulled quickly–thus allowing the gun owner to mimic automatic fire in short bursts–but he is never firing more than one round per each pull of the trigger.

This is why Breitbart News warned that any new gun control on bump stocks–be it legislative or regulatory–would lead to more and more gun control. Namely, because the push for new gun laws ultimately rests on the idea of a semiautomatic rifle being fired quickly, rather than a semiautomatic rifle being converted into an automatic weapon. Any new gun laws in this area realistically open the door not simply to bans on accessories but to bans on semiautomatic firearms in general.

And this because a practiced individual can achieve short bursts of rapid fire from a semiautomatic by using his belt loop:

Bump stocks do not violate the law anymore than belt loops do, but regulating one would necessarily lead to regulating the other (or banning semiautomatics altogether, as mentioned earlier).

Barack Obama’s ATF acted within the confines of the law when they approved bump stocks in 2010. The ATF Association letter makes this clear: “ATF makes rulings based on the statutory authority contained in law and cannot change the law to add new accessories that do not fall within the scope of existing law.”

As usual, Democrats are pushing for the all the gun control legislation they can get in the wake of heinous Las Vegas attack. The worst part about their push is that they have been joined this time around by a number of Republicans who have expressed openness to the ATF re-evaluating and regulating bump stocks too. Both approaches are bad, as both pose a threat to the right to keep and bear arms.

AWR Hawkins is the Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and host of Bullets with AWR Hawkins, a Breitbart News podcast. He is also the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at


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