First prosecution under bump stock ban reportedly takes place

A bump stock is a device that allows a semiautomatic rifle in Pennsylvania to mimic the firing capability of a machine gun. Over a year ago, the government issued a new regulation banning ownership, possession or use of bump stocks following several high-profile mass shooting incidents.

The bump stock ban went into effect in March of this year following an unsuccessful attempt to challenge it in the Supreme Court. Approximately six months later, authorities in Texas have brought the first charges in the country related to bump stock possession since the ban went into effect. 

The man authorities arrested last month is a 43-year-old from Houston. According to his mother, he has schizophrenia, though he denies this and claims to be autistic instead. In either case, he has spent some time in a mental institution per his mother’s report. As such, he faces charges of possession of firearms and ammunition by someone who had been committed to a mental institution in addition to possession of a bump stock. Additionally, he faces two counts of making false statements about his mental health history when buying the guns. Altogether, he faces four felony gun charges, each of which carries a potential penalty of $250,000 in fines and 10-year imprisonment if convicted. 

It was an email that allegedly included a request for a former president to send someone to “murder” the Houston man that first drew the attention of authorities. Conducting a search of the man’s apartment, they allegedly found hundreds of rounds of ammunition and bump stocks attached to a rifle. The search also uncovered a handheld pistol. 

The arrest happened in mid-August, and records show that the individual remains in a Houston-area federal detention center. People in Pennsylvania facing weapons charges may wish to contact a defense attorney.