Federal authorities in Texas say they’ve made their first arrest related to the Trump administration’s 2018 “bump stock” ban.
According to a Thursday statement from the United States attorney for the Southern District of Texas, a 43-year-old Houston man has been indicted on four counts of firearms violation, including possession of a machine gun, which is what “bump stocks” are now considered under federal law.
The indictment alleges that Ajay Dhingra possessed a machine gun (the bump stock), made “two materially false statements in the acquisition of two firearms,” and also unlawfully possessed a firearm despite being adjudicated “as a mental defective” under federal law.
The suspect is expected to appear before a U.S. district judge next week. He currently faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a possible $250,000 fine, according to prosecutors.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), this is believed to be the first federal charges filed related to the ban, which was announced in late 2018 and took effect in March of this year.
The ban was largely in response to the 2017 shooting in Las Vegas, in which the shooter — whose motive remains a mystery to this day — used a slide fire or “bump stock” device.
In reality, slide fire devices do not actually turn semi-automatic firearms into automatics — which fire more than one round per trigger pull — but instead allow the gun to use recoil force to slide back and forth between the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger, thereby increasing the rate of fire, typically at the cost of accuracy.
The Trump administration’s ban is a regulation that redefined “‘bump fire’ stocks, slide-fire devices, and devices with certain similar characteristics” as illegal machine guns under previous gun laws and told owners of the devices to either destroy or turn in their legally obtained hardware without even offering to compensate them.
“It’s sort of an American principle that the government doesn’t take your stuff without compensating you,” Second Amendment Caucus chair Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., told me in December.
“I’m no fan of bump stocks; I think they waste ammunition and cause you to shoot inaccurately,” Massie explained. However, “the precedent that this sets — allowing the executive branch to ban something that was legally acquired and then confiscate it and destroy it without compensation — is a horrible one.”