Gun manufacturers are always innovating, as any successful industry does. After all, they want their customers to buy their products. So they’re finding ways to give gun buyers what they want. Namely, powerful weapons that aren’t closely regulated by the federal government. Former ATF officer David Chipman was involved in classifying this ever-evolving gun technology. I was there when the question of bump stocks came in and the ask was, we want to create a device that allows people with handicaps to their hands to simulate fully automatic gun fire. Since ATF didn’t see bump stocks shoot like machine guns, they decided We are following breaking news for you a storm of gun fire raining down 58 people are dead and more than 515 injured Then fast forward to Las Vegas where the devices used there although technically similar, certainly had an entirely different intention and worked entirely different than the ones ATF first saw. Bumps stocks are part of a much larger trend. Many of the things that we’re seeing today are specific strategies by the gun lobby to circumvent the National Firearms Act. Chipman is referring to the National Firearms Act of 1934. The NFA for short. It was the first federal gun control law. We can never be free from the menace of promiscuous killings until the possession of firearms is everywhere restricted to persons of known character Think of the times of prohibition, it was a particularly violent time for street crime as well as violence against police. The law imposed a for the purchase of weapons considered to be the most lethal at the time. Those weapons include Basically fully-automatic is what a machine gun does. You pull the trigger, it fires completely automatically all the bullets go out unless you interrupt the firing by letting go of the trigger. This will suppress but not eliminate the sound of the muzzle blast. So that opponents won’t necessarily know where the shootings coming from initially. It’s a short-barreled shotgun. The barrel is shorter than 18 inches. You can see how concealable it is. In my estimation, those laws have worked for 80 years. Those are weapons that we rarely saw in crime. Congress strengthened the NFA with a 1986 law that banned civilian ownership of new machine guns. In 2015, roughly 3 out of every 1000 guns traced by the ATF were machine guns. 2016 saw roughly the same number. But, while machine guns are effectively off the streets, gun technology has evolved since the NFA was first passed. Today, companies are circumventing the 80 year old regulations. “We are cutting edge innovators committed to remaining a step ahead, in providing hardcore shooters what they need.” Chipman: Right now we are selling guns that are than what I carried on, as an ATF agent. By now, most people in America are familiar with bump fire stocks. a device added to a semi-automatic gun allowing it to mimic fully automatic fire. Since the Las Vegas massacre in 2017, the primary manufacturer has stopped
taking orders. So the device is not as accessible as it once was. But, it’s still not subject to regulation. Chipman: Anyone could buy these. They’re no age requirements, they’re not regulated by the government. They’re like a toaster. So what about other technology that falls into this category? The most lethal firearms, weapons that activists like Chipman and Jones are most concerned about, Manufacturers like Springfield Armory have designed guns that mimic a short barreled rifle without technically violating the law. These are the identical frames of the well known AR-15 and AK-47 rifles. But they’ve made them into pistols. Take the SAINT. It’s modeled after Springfield Armory’s popular semi-automatic weapon. But instead, it’s a AR-15 pistol with a 7.5″ barrel. A 7.5” barrel is shorter than the 16” legal limit for a rifle. But the barrel length of a pistol isn’t regulated by the National Firearms Act. So why is this gun considered a pistol, not a rifle? Well, it doesn’t have a buttstock Companies have come up with an attachable product called a that basically functions like a buttstock. It was created with the intention of threading your arm through the brace to fire with one hand. But, customers are using the brace to stabilize the gun against their shoulder. like a traditional shoulder stock. That effectively turns the gun into a short-barreled rifle. But because it was created to be fired like a pistol, it still isn’t subject to NFA regulations. Chipman: And because they’re rifle rounds, they are going at a much faster speed, they defeat body armor, and when they hit you they just leave devastating wounds. And those are being treated like normal handguns. Another example is the Maxim 50 Muzzleloader. It’s a single shot gun modeled after an antique style musket. so it’s not nearly as lethal as the AR pistols. Only, at the end of the gun is a what the manufacturer calls a “The same advantages you have with a regular suppressor you can now enjoy with a muzzleloader.” Because the moderator is permanently attached to an ‘antique firearm’ it’s not considered a silencer, and therefore not regulated by the NFA. “The coolest thing about the Maxim 50, it comes right to your door, ready to hunt with.” Which means anyone with $1000 can buy it online. Unless they live in one of a handful of states where the Maxim 50 is facing legal challenges. These products are becoming more common. As the National Firearm Act becomes less relevant, advocates like Chipman keep pushing to modernize the regulatory system. Chipman: I can’t buy a car and not register it, I can’t go buy pharmacy drugs without going to a pharmacy. I can’t go buy beer off the internet and meet someone in a parking lot. But that’s how we regulate guns and because of that, criminals know the avenues in which they can obtain them quite easily. Criminals are aware of the obsolete regulation Now, the broader public needs to be too. Chipman: It’s particularly important that the 70% of Americans who don’t own guns, understand what the gun lobby is doing full time to try to profit at the expense of us not being engaged on this issue.