Hours before a federal rule banning the possession of bump stocks came into effect on Tuesday, Texas-based gun accessory retailer RW Arms announced it was voluntarily turning over its entire inventory of 60,000 unsold devices to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for destruction.
In a press release sent out late Monday night, RW Arms said that it would surrender the bump stocks to local ATF agents. The agents would then watch as a local recycling company destroyed the devices with an industrial shredding machine.
RW Arms was founded in April 2017, just weeks after Slide Fire, the leading manufacturer of bump stocks, announced its own closure. Slide Fire’s demise came after months of scrutiny brought on by the Las Vegas mass shooting, in which a gunman used more than a dozen rifles equipped with the devices to carry out the deadliest mass shooting in American history. RW Arms, The Trace found, was hawking Slide Fire’s remaining inventory of bump stocks and other firearms accessories. The Trace also found that RW Arms was selling bump-stock equipped rifles without a license, prompting an ATF investigation.
When the top manufacturer of the rapid-fire devices closed, RW Arms stepped in to sell its remaining inventory. The Fort Worth-based company also offers several rifles — without the required license.
For months after the Trump administration announced in December that it would pursue a regulatory ban of bump stocks, RW Arms marketed the devices on its website with a ticking countdown clock. The message to customers was clear: buy before the rule change comes into effect. Individuals found in possession of bump stocks after March 26 are subject to a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.
RW Arms did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
ATF spokesperson Bradley Engelbert would not say whether RW Arms’ surrender of its inventory was part of a larger agency effort to remove bump stocks from retailers and consumers. He said state and local authorities may run their own buyback programs or destruction efforts, and that there are no comprehensive estimates of how many bump stocks will be turned in in the coming days. Engelbert did not respond to a separate inquiry about the status of the agency’s investigation into RW Arms for selling firearms without a license.
Bump stocks have been around for more than a decade, but only came to public attention after the Las Vegas massacre in October 2017. After the attack, the devices were condemned by elected officials in both major parties. At least nine states passed their own bans. At the federal level, President Donald Trump directed the ATF to reclassify bump stocks as machine guns, rendering them illegal to own.
The agency’s plans for enforcing its effective ban are limited, however. Engelbert, the ATF spokesperson, said the agency has no requirement that individuals report that they have destroyed or turned in their bump stocks.