Today, the federal ban on bump stocks takes effect. The device came under fire after it was used during the Las Vegas massacre, considered the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Bump stocks were officially labeled “machine guns,” making them illegal under existing law. Owners were given two choices: destroy their bump stocks or turn them in to authorities.
The rule change, according to a report by the New York Daily News, was announced in December by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The public was given three months to turn in or destroy all “bump-stock-type-devices” in their possession.
Bump stocks have the ability to increase the shooting capacity of a variety of semiautomatic rifles, allowing them to act more like a fully automatic weapon. The action of the bump stock eliminates the need for the gun user to actively pull the trigger with their finger for each shot. The motion of the bump stock essentially makes the trigger pull passive for them.
The ATF estimates that the public has somewhere between 280,000 and 520,000 bump stocks. Owners were given the option to turn in their devices to authorities, particularly the ATF. However, some local law enforcement agencies may also be functioning as turn-in locations.
Washington State, for example, offered bump stock owners access to a buyback program, providing $150 per device for up to five devices per person.
The ATF also published instructions on how to destroy bump stocks effectively, ensuring they were rendered unusable one the process was complete.
While March 26 served as the deadline, the ATF asserts that citizens would not “instantly” become felons when the new rule came into effect. However, they encouraged all device owners to turn in or destroy their devices immediately to “avoid criminal liability.”
Essentially, it seems that if a person happened to find a bump stock in their attic down the road, they might not get in trouble.
ATF New York office spokesman Matthew Fleming said that cases such as those would be examined to determine the “intent” of the individual.
The bump stock ban is being challenged in court. However, none of the filings resulted in an emergency stay to the measure going into effect.