Owning, buying, selling, or otherwise transferring a bump stock, a device that allows rifles to mimic automatic weapons, becomes illegal Tuesday, when a federal ban goes into effect.
An October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 prompted action on bump stocks by President Donald Trump. In February 2018, Trump instructed the attorney general to regulate their use and in December, Justice Department officials issued the ban, giving owners 90 days to either turn bump stocks over to federal agents or melt, shred or crush them.
Bump stocks combine two legal devices, a plastic stock and a firearm, that together function like a machine gun. The bump stock harnesses the recoil of the rifle to accelerate trigger pulls, technically “bumping” the trigger for each shot after it bounces off the shooter’s shoulder.
In February, a U.S. District judge in Washington rejected challenges to the ban.
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Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected arguments that the rule was rushed through the administrative process, or that it was improperly issued by then acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. She wrote that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was within its right to redefine ambiguous terms that the government had previously concluded constrained them to allow the devices.
The case was one of at least five federal lawsuits challenging the rule issued by the Justice Department.
To destroy the devices, crushing, melting or shredding bump stocks is permitted, so is cutting them into pieces provided the devices are completely severed in areas constituting critical design failure.
Specific guidelines and methods to safely sever various bump stock models are available on ATF’s website.
ATF: How to destroy a bump stock
Failure to destroy or turn in a bump stock will result in felony charges, the ATF said, adding state laws permitting the devices do not outweigh the federal regulation against them.
A violation of the federal ban comes with a $250,000 fine on top of a possible 10-year prison term.