On Saturday, March 10th, the Department of Justice released a new statement that carries with it drastic consequences for gun owners around America. The statement reads as follows:
“To the Office of Management and Budget a notice of a proposed regulation to clarify that the definition of machine gun in the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act includes bump stock type devices, and that federal law accordingly prohibits the possession, sale, or manufacture of such devices.”
Under the current National Firearms Act, the term machine gun is defined as “Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” In other words, if you hold the trigger and rounds keep going, you have a machine gun.
Currently, a bump stock does not make your gun a machine gun as you still must pull the trigger for each round. While the bump stock does utilize the kick of your gun to fire more quickly, it doesn’t touch the high rate of fire or ease of use that many machine guns possess.
With the new definition of machine gun possibly being added to the NFA, it is unclear what else will be banned. Would it extend to working on triggers to have a lighter pull, a shorter reset, or using a binary trigger? Each of these, just like the bump stock, would increase your rate of fire, so would these be banned as well? At this time we don’t know, but all of us are asking the questions and wondering where the line will be drawn.
How Are Gun Owners Reacting?
Gun owners across the country are preparing for the regulation changes. Many have been caught off guard or are misinterpreting what the changes mean. Jesse B., a Texas gun owner who owns a bump stock, is one of the many gun owners caught off guard by the proposed changes.
“Well I heard they were trying to ban bump stocks, even Trump was talking about it. I’m just glad I already have mine so I’m grandfathered into the old system. It’s not like I use my [bump stock] all that often, but I’d never let the government take it from me,” said Jesse.
Unfortunately, the changes are not that simple. The new regulations would not grandfather existing bump stock owners. If this law passes, existing bump stock owners would be forced to destroy their legally-purchased bump stocks without compensation, or they would have an illegal machine gun on their hands.
So, what does this mean for Jesse, and the many others like him?
Potentially, a lot.
Changing the definition of a machine gun will make many legal gun owners, just like Jesse, felons because they now possess an illegal firearm, which also happens to be an illegal machine gun!
Under federal law, possession of an illegal machine gun imposes a fine up to $250,000 and jail time not to exceed 10 years. With limited options, most gun owners would have to return or destroy their now “machine gun device” with no compensation.
“How is it even legal that the government can force me to destroy something that I bought legally without compensation,” Jesse asked. “That just doesn’t make any sense.”
Jesse is not the only gun owner who feels that way. Many Florida residents are in agreement and are taking legal action.
A case has already been filed in the Leon County Circuit Court of Florida, asking a judge to certify a class-action lawsuit and order full compensation for what the plaintiffs’ attorneys estimate are tens of thousands of dollars for Florida residents who own bump stocks or any other device that will become illegal under the new proposed law.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys argue this is a regulatory taking of lawfully-owned property from people, which would make them entitled to compensation.
Gun Stores Scared of the Unknown
While very few gun stores depend solely on the sale of bump stocks to stay in business, this potential change in law has many gun store owners terrified. With this proposed legislation, the government can make a completely legal item a felony to own. If the government continues down this road of banning firearm accessories or attachments, many gun stores or manufacturers could lose everything.
Jon El of Phantom Tactical told us he doesn’t even sell bump stocks at his store as he personally considers them to be “novelties” vs. combat effective but is understandably worried about the change in law. Saying “it’s terrifying they are going to make you destroy your bump stock with possibly no compensation. The precedence this law would set is terrible for all gun owners.”