Bump fire

Bump fire is the act of using the recoil of a semi-automatic firearm or revolver to fire shots in rapid succession at the cost of accuracy of individual shots. Bump fire gunstocks are of varying legality in the United States; some states have banned their possession, while others have not. Following the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, the U.S. Department of Justice announced a plan in March 2018, to classify bump stocks as “machine guns” and effectively ban them nationwide under existing federal law. The Department of Justice issued a final rule on December 18, 2018, providing that bump stocks would be regulated like machine guns effective March 26, 2019.On April 17, 2018, Slide Fire Solutions, the sole holder of the bump stock patent, announced that it would cease production of bump stocks as of May 20, though they did not state whether this was a temporary or permanent measure. It has temporarily suspended production before.

Bump fire stocks

Bump fire stocks are gunstocks that are specially designed to make bump firing easier, which assist semi-automatic firearms with somewhat mimicking the firing motion of fully automatic weapons but does not make the firearm automatic. Essentially, bump stocks assist rapid fire by “throwing” the trigger against one's finger (as opposed to one's finger pulling on the trigger) thus allowing the firearm's recoil to actuate the trigger. Bump fire stocks can be placed on a few common weapon platforms such as the AR or AK families. They can achieve rates of fire between 400 and 500 rounds per minute depending on the gun. As of 2018, bump fire stocks in the United States may sell for around \$100 and up, with prices increasing due to potential regulation.Slide Fire Solutions, the inventor, patent holder, and leading manufacturer of bump stocks, suspended sales after bump stocks were used in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting and resumed sales a month later. On May 20, 2018, Slide Fire Solutions halted sales and production of its products.

Regulatory status in the United States

Federal

The ATF ruled in 2010 that bump stocks were not a firearm subject to regulation and allowed their sale as an unregulated firearm part. In the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, twelve bump fire stock devices were found at the scene. The National Rifle Association stated on October 5, 2017, “Devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations”, and called on regulators to “immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law”. The 2017 shooting generated bipartisan interest in regulating bump stocks. On October 4, 2017, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill to ban bump stocks, but it was not acted upon. Instead, on February 20, 2018, President Trump instructed the ATF to issue regulations to treat bump stocks as machine guns.On March 23, 2018, the Department of Justice announced a plan to change the regulatory status of bump stocks. The proposed change would classify bump stocks as “machine guns” and effectively ban the devices in the United States under existing federal law. A notice of proposed rulemaking was issued by the ATF on March 29, 2018, and opened for public comments. Slightly more than 119,000 comments were submitted in support of the proposed rule, while slightly more than 66,000 comments expressed opposition to it. In December 2018, the final regulation to ban bump stocks was published by the Department of Justice in the Federal Register; the ban is scheduled to go into effect on March 26, 2019. The final rule states that “bump-stock-type devices” are covered by the Gun Control Act, as amended, which “with limited exceptions, ... makes it unlawful for any person to transfer or possess a machine-gun unless it was lawfully possessed prior to the effective date of the statute.” By the effective date of the regulation, owners of bump stocks are required to surrender such devices to ATF or destroy them. Several gun rights groups challenged the regulation. In December 2018, Gun Owners of America, a gun-rights group, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan seeking an preliminary injunction against the ban. That case is pending. Separately, the Firearms Policy Coalition and other groups sued in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming that the bump-stock ban violated the Administrative Procedure Act and also seeking an injunction. In February 2019, the district court in D.C. denied the Firearms Policy Coalition request for an injunction, determining that the group had not put forward convincing legal arguments that the ban was invalid.

State

Sale of bump stocks has been illegal in California since 1990. They were banned in New York with the passage of the NY SAFE Act in 2013. In his final day as governor in January 2018, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation making the gun accessory illegal in New Jersey. The device's legal status is unclear in Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. Massachusetts banned bump stocks after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting.On March 2018, following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the state of Florida enacted SB 7026, which, among other things, banned bump stocks. The portion of the legislation banning bump stocks took effect in October 2018; possession in Florida is a third-degree felony. Vermont passed a similar law in 2018, which went into effect in October 2018; possession in Vermont is a misdemeanor. Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, and Washington have also banned bump stocks.Some states that do not ban bump stocks may have localities that ban them, such as Northbrook, Illinois, Boulder, Colorado, and others.

Patent infringement suit

Slide Fire Solutions filed suit against Bump Fire Systems for infringement of its patents on bump stock designs in 2014. The suit alleged that Bump Fire Systems infringed eight US Patents, for example, United States Patent No. 6,101,918 entitled “Method And Apparatus for Accelerating the Cyclic Firing Rate of a Semi-Automatic Firearm” and United States Patent No. 8,127,658 entitled “Method of Shooting a Semi-Automatic Firearm”. The suit was settled in 2016, resulting in Bump Fire Systems ceasing manufacture of the product in contention.

Other lawsuits

Survivors of the 2017 Las Vegas shooting sued bump stock patent holder and manufacturer Slide Fire Solutions, claiming the company was negligent and that they deliberately attempted to evade U.S. laws regulating automatic weapons: “this horrific assault would not and could not have occurred, with a conventional handgun, rifle, or shotgun, of the sort used by law-abiding responsible gun owners for hunting or self defense.” The suit was dismissed in September 2018; the court determined that the bump stocks of the sort used by gunman Stephen Paddock to commit the murders, were “firearm components” rather than “firearm accessories” and were therefore subject to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a federal law immunizing manufacturers and sellers of firearms from liability for harm “caused by those who criminally or unlawfully misuse firearm products.”

Public opinion

Recent polls show public support for a bump stock ban. Immediately following the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, 72% of registered voters supported a bump stock ban, including 68% of Republicans and 79% of Democrats. A 2018 poll found 81% of American adults supported banning bump stocks with a margin of error of +/- 3.5%. A different poll around the same time found 56% of American adults supported banning bump stocks with a margin of error of +/- 4%.

See also

Hell-Fire trigger Recoil operation Slamfire 2017 Las Vegas shooting Gun politics in the United States

References