Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Akins Accelerator 2

In response to my previous article about the Adkins Accelerator, Bill Adkins posted to the COMMENTS section with some more explanatory information as well as citing a 12/26 update from TBO and an animated gif which demonstrates the device in action.

Akins states:
My device was TWICE in writing approved by the BATFE and they [said] they were approving it based upon its concept and method of operation.

My device fires one shot for each [separate] function of the trigger. The barrel, receiver, trigger guard and magazine recoil a short distance within a stationary stock and compress a spring, this rearward recoil removes the trigger completely from the trigger finger. The the spring decompresses and forces the barrel, receiver and trigger guard back forward where your trigger finger then engages the trigger to function it again. One shot for each single function of the trigger exactly as federal law stipulates is semi auto fire, NOT FULL AUTO FIRE. This is a stock your firearm fits into, not something that fits into the firearm. [Emphasis in the original]
Here's how it looks in action:

Judging from the description provided, combined with the illustration, it appears that the trigger essentially disappears into the stock with each round fired. That effectively breaks the finger contact with the trigger, which seems to meet the requirements for not meeting the definition of a device which renders a firearm a "machine gun':
Machine gun. Any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machine gun, and any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.
[Code of Federal Regulations]
[Title 27, Volume 2]
[Revised as of April 1, 2003]
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
[CITE: 27CFR479]

[Page 171-174]




Subpart B--Definitions

Sec. 479.11 Meaning of terms.

Once again, I have to say that I'm not qualified to state whether the Akins Accelerator does or does not meet the definition of a "machine gun", in the sense that a device can change the definition of a semi-automatic rifle to a "machine gun".

It seems to come down to the definition of the phrase "... a single function of the trigger."

My personal choice would be to say that the Akins Accelerator does not "... shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger." This is based on my understanding that the trigger functions when the trigger finger is in contact, and any break in contact constitutes a separate "function of the trigger".

This is a strictly literal interpretation of the terminology.

A less strict interpretation would perhaps require the inclusion of the intent of the shooter. That is, if the shooter intends to allow the device to shoot many rounds more rapidly than is likely possible using trigger-finger movement, one only needs to hold the trigger finger in contact with that part of the stock which momentarily shields the trigger from finger contact after each shot. If the shooter intends to cease firing, one can accomplish this by removing the trigger finger from that stock contact.

However, any law or regulation which involves 'intent' seems generally to be an attempt to define a degree of culpability.

For example, let us postulate the situation where one person shoots another person. (All of these definitions, for the sake of illustration, presuppose that the victim is mortally wounded.)

If there is no intent at all, the shooting may be considered 'accidental', and no culpability if involved. Or, if the situation includes a degree of negligence, the shooting may be judged to include a degree of culpability (eg: 'negligent homicide' or 'manslaughter'.)

On the other hand, shooting someone in self-defense is defined as 'justifiable homicide'. See below.

To advance the argument, if the shooting is intentional, it may be further subdefined in terms of premeditation (2nd Degree vs 1st Degree). Other subdivisions include Murder for Hire, or Murder to hide another crime (Aggrevated Murder).

Getting back to the concept of 'intent', these definitions only determine the degree of culpability. In every example, the presumption is that a violation of acceptable social behavior is involved.

It is always 'a bad thing' to shoot someone else, except for the situations where it is justifiable (see above).

On the other hand, it is NOT 'always a bad thing' to fire a machine gun. So, even if the Akins Accelerator does have the same effect as having a machine gun, if the concept of 'intent' is required to make the state's case, we may be forgiven for assuming that it involves only the degree of culpability (if such term applies) rather than to be always 'a bad thing'.

This is clearly sophistry, yet it is no worse than the position of the ATF which seems comfortable with saying "a machine gun is what we say it is, whether or not we have defined it to include all possible permutations of devices."

I don't think they can have it both ways. They have taken their best shot at defining a 'machine gun', and despite the inclusion of weasel words it seems to fall a bit short in this specific instance.

Do I think that Mr. Akins has invented a device which converts a semi-automatic rifle to a 'machine gun'? Yes, I do.

Given the benefit of hind-sight, I believe it may be possible to re-word the ATF definition of a 'machine gun' to include the Akins Accelerator. I couldn't do it, but there are sufficient legal weasels available to the ATF to plug this 'loophole'.

However, ATF has not done it.

Until their legal definition of the term clearly includes this design, I don't think ATF can legally impose the restrictions and penalties which they have arbitrarily decided to create here.

I have not the benefit of legal training, so of course my personal opinion has absolutely no weight under the law. I have not doubt that ATF and the United States Federal Government can bring enough expensive legal power against Mr. Akins and his company to break him, both financially and otherwise. (See Ryan Horsley's latest post about Mike Sullivan's arbitrary leadership style here.)

That doesn't mean I think it's right, or that they should.

It only means that, whether or not you and I think it is an abuse of power, they only need to want to do it for Mr. Akins to end up in the poor-house ... or in the pokey.

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