By Dan Kidder
At a speech honoring first responders on Tuesday, the President announced that he was instructing the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) to implement regulations prohibiting currently legal firearms accessories that increase the rate of fire of non-regulated semi-automatic firearms.
In a memo to the Attorney General, the President instructed BATFE to impose new regulations as quickly as possible.
Last October, the President requested the BATFE to review the designation of bump fire stocks and other accessories that increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic guns after a shooter used the devices to shoot concert goers in Las Vegas, killing 58 and wounding more than 800.
The BATFE issued a request for comments as part of a notice of proposed rule-making (NPRM) and received more than 100,000 comments from organizations and individuals on both sides of the debate, including the National Rifle Association, who urged the BATFE to review the devices to determine if they comply with current federal law.
During the previous administration, BATFE had determined that bump fire stocks, and other devices to increase the rate of fire but that do not alter the firearm, were legal as non-regulated items that do not fall under the classification of a fully automatic weapon under the National Firearms Act.
Under the memo, the President has instructed BATFE to finalize rules to prohibit the sale of bump fire stocks and other accessories that increase the rate of fire, including binary triggers that allow two rounds to be fired, once when the trigger is pulled and again when the trigger resets.
The memo has caused a rash of pre-buying of the devices, in hopes that the final rule will grandfather those devices purchased prior to enactment. It is unknown if the rule will include such a grandfather clause or will outright ban possession of the accessories.
The full memo is below.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20, 2018
MEMORANDUM FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
SUBJECT: Application of the Definition of Machinegun to “Bump Fire” Stocks and Other Similar Devices
After the deadly mass murder in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 1, 2017, I asked my Administration to fully review how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regulates bump fire stocks and similar devices.
Although the Obama Administration repeatedly concluded that particular bump stock type devices were lawful to purchase and possess, I sought further clarification of the law restricting fully automatic machineguns.
Accordingly, following established legal protocols, the Department of Justice started the process of promulgating a Federal regulation interpreting the definition of “machinegun” under Federal law to clarify whether certain bump stock type devices should be illegal. The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on December 26, 2017. Public comment concluded on January 25, 2018, with the Department of Justice receiving over 100,000 comments.
Today, I am directing the Department of Justice to dedicate all available resources to complete the review of the comments received, and, as expeditiously as possible, to propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.
Although I desire swift and decisive action, I remain committed to the rule of law and to the procedures the law prescribes. Doing this the right way will ensure that the resulting regulation is workable and effective and leaves no loopholes for criminals to exploit. I would ask that you keep me regularly apprised of your progress.
You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
DONALD J. TRUMP