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.