The Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced today that it has begun the process of promulgating a federal regulation interpreting the definition of “machinegun” under federal law to clarify whether certain bump stock devices fall within that definition.
“The Department of Justice has the duty to enforce our laws, protect our rights, and keep the American people safe,” Attorney General Sessions said. “Possessing firearm parts that are used exclusively in converting a weapon into a machine gun is illegal, except for certain limited circumstances. Today we begin the process of determining whether or not bump stocks are covered by this prohibition. We will go through the regulatory process that is required by law and we will be attentive to input from the public. This Department is serious about firearms offenses, as shown by the dramatic increase in firearms prosecutions this year. The regulatory clarification we begin today will help us to continue to protect the American people by carrying out the laws duly enacted by our representatives in Congress.”
ATF has taken the initial step in this regulatory process by drafting an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) and submitting it to the Office of Management and Budget. The ANPRM will provide the public and industry the opportunity to submit formal comments to ATF about bump stocks to inform ATF’s decision regarding further steps in the rulemaking process. The federal rulemaking process follows procedures required by the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). ATF and the Department will proceed in accordance with this process as quickly as possible.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) strictly regulate the possession and transfer of machineguns, making it unlawful for any person to possess a machinegun that was not lawfully possessed prior to the statute’s effective date. Manufacturers and inventors may voluntarily submit devices to ATF for a “classification,” that is, a determination as to whether the device is considered a firearm or machinegun under federal law. If a device is not classified as a firearm or machinegun, it is deemed to be a part or accessory that is not subject to regulation by ATF.