October 5, 2017: BATFE Wrong on Bumpfire Stock

I do not own a bumpfire stock.  I have shot an AK-47 clone with one.  The same principle as the bumpfire stock used on an AR-15 clone by the mass murderer in Las Vegas. 

The Firearms Technology Branch (FTB) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) reviewed the AR-15 version of the bumpfire stock from Bump Fire Systems.   The determination is in a letter dated Apr 01 2012 that was sent with the stock I got to shoot.  The determination for the Slide Fire product which appears to have been patented first must be similar.

The determination was that the device does not make a rifle a machinegun under the NFA, 26 U.S.C. 5845(b), or the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C.  The letter is signed by John R. Spencer, Chief, Firearms Technology Branch. 

The wording “Since your device is incapable of initiating an automatic firing cycle that continues until either the finger is released or the ammunition supply is exhausted” is flawed.  When used as designed, it produces a continuous stream of fire until the finger is removed from the trigger, the ammunition supply is exhausted, or the forward pressure on the fore grip is released. 

I understand the legal definitions in the U.S.C. but disagree on the conclusion the FTB reached.  The purpose of the device as advertised is to provide “The feel of automatic fire”.  Could the ATF have withstood and prevailed on appeal from Slide Fire and/or Bumpfire Systems if their original designation had been to classify the device as an NFA device.  That designation would require registration, transfer through an FFL and a $200 tax? 

That would have been an appropriate response to the inquiry for any company for this type of device.  That would have made the device more expensive to purchase, but still much less than a rifle designed for sustained fire.  Since the mass murderer in Las Vegas didn’t go the route of purchasing controlled, but available machine guns it raises the question whether it was expense or governmental avoidance that drove his purchasing decisions. 

It is not intuitive to use.  The push-pull required to operate a rifle equipped with a bumpfire requires practice.   

There are few situations where automatic gun fire is effective either for defensive or offensive.   That’s why Military rifles have select fire for single shot, burst, or full auto.  Marksmanship is typically inversely proportional to the rate of fire. 

S.1916 has already been introduced that may make it illegal to posses or transfer one of these devices.  The problem with this bill will be the purposefully vague wording that will later be interpreted to encompass a whole rifle.   

The best solution is to reclassify the device as an NFA device.  The customers who want to keep them can register them and pay the $200 tax.  All future transfer would be done through and FFL.  For owners who don’t want to keep them, have BATFE sponsor a buy-back.  

Bumpfire Systems is no longer a manufacturer after a patent settlement with Slide Fire.


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