ATF Won’t Say If Anyone Has Turned in Bump Stocks, Won’t Release Enforcement Details

Lack of Supreme Court actions means most owners are now felons despite pending litigation

A bump-fire stock / Getty Images

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The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives refused to release the details of how the agency planned to enforce the bump-stock ban that went into effect on Tuesday and the number of bump stocks that have been turned in to them, if any.

"ATF is not discussing who has or has not abandoned bump stocks to ATF," Jasmine Reed, an ATF spokesperson, told the Washington Free Beacon. "We would enforce any item that meets the definition of ‘machinegun' under Title 27. Since bump-stock-type devices meet this definition it will be enforced as such."

The ATF would not say whether or not it would make any concerted effort to contact those who had legally purchased bump stocks before the Trump administration unilaterally reinterpreted the definition of "machinegun" in order to incorporate the devices, effectively outlawing their possession. The ATF did not comment on whether or not it would attempt to obtain bump-stock sales records or if it had any specific plan to find those who refuse to destroy or turn in their devices.

The Department of Justice did not respond to a comment request containing similar questions.

The ATF said other law enforcement agencies may be collecting bump stocks but it did not have any data reflecting that.

"It is possible that other law enforcement entities at the state, county, local, and tribal level are also accepting bump stocks from the public," Reed said. "There is no requirement for individuals to report alternative site turn in to ATF."

The question and answer section the agency set up in regards to the bump-stock ban cautions bump-stock owners that local law enforcement agencies may accept their devices but are not required to. Instead, it suggests making an appointment with a local ATF office to turn in a bump stock. However, it also says bump stocks are no longer legal to possess after March 25.

The Firearms Policy Foundation, which is currently suing to have the ban overturned, estimated the ban will affect hundreds of thousands of American gun owners.

"President Trump made possibly hundreds of thousands of American gun owners felons with a pen and a phone," the group said of the ban taking effect.

While the D.C. Circuit Court issued a partial stay that protects the plaintiffs in the Firearms Policy Coalition case and members of the gun-rights groups involved in the case, neither the Circuit Court nor Supreme Court chief justice John Roberts granted an expanded stay request. That means most bump-stock owners are not exempt from enforcement as the court case against the ban moves forward.

Another emergency stay request from a separate case against the bump-stock ban brought by Gun Owners of America in the Sixth Circuit is currently being deliberated by Supreme Court justice Sonya Sotomayor. A decision on that request is expected in short order.

In the meantime, it is unclear what specific actions, if any, the ATF and Department of Justice are taking to enforce the ban.

Stephen Gutowski   Email Stephen | Full Bio | RSS
Stephen Gutowski is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He founded his own site as a junior in college and has been writing about news and politics since that time. He spent 4 years with the Media Research Center and was most recently with the Capitol City Project. His email address is Gutowski@FreeBeacon.com. His twitter handle is @StephenGutowski.

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