By Dan Shea
Some notes on the Akins Accelerator mess are in order. As I write this on 7 January, 2007, there has not yet been a plan put in place to reach compliance for the company and all of the purchasers of the Akins Accelerator units. This is a big “What the Heck Happened.”
An American manufacturing company had an interesting product – essentially a stock with springs in a mechanism that allowed someone to put a Ruger 10/22 barreled receiver into it and get “Bump Fire.” This is a simulated full auto firing because the firearm recoils inside the stock and keeps hitting the trigger against the shooter’s trigger finger on the forward motion.
These were a heck of a lot of fun. I watched Akins Group Inc. do everything right. They got a letter from Firearms Technology Branch, ATF, saying that their principle was not creating a machine gun or a machine gun conversion part. Then, they sent in for clarification and got the second letter clarifying it. Then and only then, they went into production, sent out a hundred or so Beta units for testing, waited for response and incorporated it into their final design, and they hit the market. Looked like they were headed for success with this little plinker, and they sold at Knob Creek and the SAR Show.
Someone shot the race horse right at the gate, just as the gate was opening and the bell was clanging. Some individuals, who apparently wanted a confrontation with FTB, sent samples in, demanding classification. FTB sent another letter immediately in mid December rescinding the other two letters, and saying these were now “Machine Gun Conversion Devices.” We should all be thankful to the individuals who decided to push this issue for their own agenda (Note: This is sarcasm). They have ensured that Akins Group Inc did not have enough time to financially recover, and caused tremendous hardship to a small business, as well as hundreds of people who bought the product. The compliance policy is unclear, but I doubt it currently includes ATF paying us for the Akins Devices that they just de-valued by default.
Certainly, this highlights a serious problem, in that the Firearms Technology Branch needs several things. First, they need a complete testing protocol. Second, they need the personnel and funding to get the last 30 years of “Letters” that have been issued into a checkable database to ensure continuity in rulings, and third, well third, there needs to be some accountability for reversing rulings and the economic hardship caused thereby. We have been diligently working with ATF on many levels in the last few years, with some great people. We are all aware that there will be times that there will be legitimate reversals of rulings. It is my sincere hope that we can get these issues to the table, and ensure that this type of thing never happens again without some type of compensation for the people affected. (For updates on this, go to www.firefaster.com)
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V10N6 (March 2007)|