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ATF Assn. Admitted Rifles with Bump Stocks Not Machine Guns

On October 12, 2017, the ATF Association sent a letter to lawmakers informing them that the ATF approved bump stocks because they do not turn semi-automatic rifles into machine guns.

The letter was dated 11 days after a man went on a mass shooting in Las Vegas with multiple rifles, at least some of which were equipped with bump stocks. The brutal shooting sparked calls to ban bump stocks, which many gun regulators have equated to machine guns.

During this time of turmoil, the ATF Association sent a letter to lawmakers.

letterThe document, written by the group’s president, Michael Bouchard, reads:

The National Firearms Act of 1934, Title 26 USC 5845(b), defines a “machine gun” as a combination of parts designed and intended to be used to modify a weapon so that a single function of the trigger can cause the weapon to be fired automatically one or more times without manual reloading. ATF also believes that any item that can cause a firearm to be fired more than one time by a single function of the trigger is also regulated as a machine gun.

The Las Vegas killer used a “bump slide,” an accessory that attaches to the stock of a semi-automatic rifle to speed up the trigger pull, making the rate of fire more like a real machine gun, but under current law it does not qualify as a machine gun.

Barack Obama’s ATF acted within the law when it approved bump stocks in 2010, and the ATF Association letter clearly states: “ATF bases its rulings on the statutory authority contained in the law and cannot change the law to add new attachments that are outside the scope of existing law.”

Despite the association’s letter, the ATF continued to ban bump stocks in 2019. The ban was challenged by Texas gun store owner Michael Cargill.

On June 14, 2024, the United States Supreme Court, with Justice Clarence Thomas delivering the majority opinion, struck down the ATF’s bump stock ban.

In his opinion, Thomas explanation This is exactly what the ATF Association explained in 2017, but Thomas went into more detail: “A semi-automatic rifle equipped with a bump stock is not a ‘machine gun’ as defined in § 5845(b) because (1) it cannot fire more than one shot ‘with one action of the trigger,’ and (2) it does not fire ‘automatically,’ even if it could. Therefore, ATF has exceeded its statutory authority by issuing a rule classifying bump stocks as machine guns.”

AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Constitutional Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the author and curator of Breitbart News’ weekly Constitutional Amendment newsletter, Down Range with AWR Hawkins, which focuses on all things Constitutional Amendment. He has served as a political analyst for Armed American Radio, a pro staff member for Pulsar Night Vision, and Global Marketing Director for Lone Star Hunts. He was a visiting scholar at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal in 2010 and earned his PhD in Military History. Follow him on Instagram. FollowYou can subscribe to Downrange at breitbart.com/downrange . To contact me directly, please email awrhawkins@breitbart.com