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View Full Version : Electronic trigger actuators, California, and the ATF.


CHS
06-15-2011, 1:32 PM
I have a need to implement solenoid-style electronic trigger actuators to enable remote-firing of semi-auto firearms fairly soon.

I know that the BATFE gets "twitchy" as soon as electronics and triggers become concerned due to how close to "machinegun" status they feel they bring the firearms.

Then you've got the issue with "multi-burst trigger activators" here in California.

Have there been any rulings or guidelines that anyone knows about regarding electronic triggers attached to firearms from the BATFE? What about California?

My design idea would include a separate "lockout" circuit that would have to be overridden by an operator before the firearm is able to fire again. Basically: Person would go to web page, they have a 10-rd counter, they aim the gun and press the fire button. Gun fires. The operator of the firearm then gets a red light near the gun. The gun will not be able to be fired remotely any longer, until the operator unlocks the lockout circuit, turning the light green. Then web page visitor could go to round number two.

Semi-auto firearms need to be used for a large variety of reasons, and aside from the possible issues with an electronic trigger would be legal in every way.

Thoughts? Ideas? Rulings? Case law? Armchair lawyers?

All ideas are welcome.

AJAX22
06-15-2011, 1:37 PM
Look up restrictions on "set guns" and 'spring guns'

IIRC the BATFE has ruled negatively on these rigs recently (regarding internet hunting)

wash
06-15-2011, 1:38 PM
Some kid could make a script to speed up the process I bet.

I would be very careful here and keep it fully hard wired and analog (and fail safe, not fail fire).

CHS
06-15-2011, 1:41 PM
Some kid could make a script to speed up the process I bet.

Yup, hence the automatic lockout with manual override.


I would be very careful here and keep it fully hard wired and analog (and fail safe, not fail fire).

Already ahead of you there :)

CHS
06-15-2011, 1:41 PM
Look up restrictions on "set guns" and 'spring guns'

IIRC the BATFE has ruled negatively on these rigs recently (regarding internet hunting)

I'll do my googles, but in the meantime do you have any links?

Experimentalist
06-15-2011, 3:55 PM
Wow, the same microcontroller code that fires a strobe upon receiving a trigger signal, could become a machine gun (or at least an enabling component) if connected to the solenoid attached to a semi-auto rifle trigger.

Connor P Price
06-15-2011, 4:12 PM
Looking for volunteers for beta testers? :p

You say you need the firearm to be semi-automatic, does it need to maintain full semi-function though? Thinking of an AR with the gas system removed, operator could pull a charging handle as the reset. Without being sure of how the idea is being implemented its tough to see how it would work.

Falconis
06-15-2011, 4:13 PM
Bottom line is I don't know. But I do remember seeing on the news about 15 years ago, a guy made a remote controlled sniper platform out of a semi auto rifle. This was done after some incident that the media went into a frenzy over. He presented his remote controlled gun to Fremont PD, Hayward, and a couple others. They all expressed an interest in it till he told them about the 8000.00 price tag for each unit.

Hope this helps somewhat. Doubt it, but ehh, figure it's better than nothing.

CHS
06-15-2011, 4:59 PM
Looking for volunteers for beta testers? :p


Hahaha, not right now :)


You say you need the firearm to be semi-automatic, does it need to maintain full semi-function though? Thinking of an AR with the gas system removed, operator could pull a charging handle as the reset. Without being sure of how the idea is being implemented its tough to see how it would work.

Yeah, semi-auto is kind of important. The guns will have thousands of rounds through them over just a couple of days. Manually cycling everything will get tiring REAL fast.

bwiese
06-15-2011, 5:12 PM
Then you've got the issue with "multi-burst trigger activators" here in California.

Rumor has it the SlideFire stock is being examined by DOJ staffers to see if it's also a machinegun part in addition to being a multiburst trigger activator.

bigcalidave
06-15-2011, 5:19 PM
^^^ lol

Thousands of rounds a day? Have fun reloading! Is this some sort of online crowd sourced torture test demo for a manufacturer?

SilentPea
06-15-2011, 5:58 PM
There are several completely legal electronic solenoid triggers on the market (most of them integrated into olympic style pistols) There is also a guy over on Rimfire Central who is making a drop-in unit for 10/22 actions. So thats fine.
Most of them (as far as I know) use hardware components only as opposed to programmable microcontrollers to avoid any simple method of converting to full auto.


The question of remote/web access is a separate issue and I can't really help you there. I recall a story about someone who set up a remote hunting rig and got some hefty fines. It may have been due to the hunting aspect as opposed to the technology though.

Spyder
06-15-2011, 6:32 PM
Don't know what your intended purpose is, but look into Fish and Game Code 2007 and 3003.

CHS
06-15-2011, 8:04 PM
Thousands of rounds a day? Have fun reloading!

We'll have range monkeys for that, and lula's :)

Is this some sort of online crowd sourced torture test demo for a manufacturer?

Sadly, I cannot say.

There are several completely legal electronic solenoid triggers on the market (most of them integrated into olympic style pistols) There is also a guy over on Rimfire Central who is making a drop-in unit for 10/22 actions. So thats fine.
Most of them (as far as I know) use hardware components only as opposed to programmable microcontrollers to avoid any simple method of converting to full auto.


Do you have any links to these triggers? Ones NOT integrated into existing designs, but add-ons?


The question of remote/web access is a separate issue and I can't really help you there. I recall a story about someone who set up a remote hunting rig and got some hefty fines. It may have been due to the hunting aspect as opposed to the technology though.

Don't know what your intended purpose is, but look into Fish and Game Code 2007 and 3003.

There's no hunting involved. And the firearms will be monitored actively by two people at all times, not to mention the dozens of other people that will be around anyways. This isn't one of those hunting cases where we would be dropping off some guns in some remote location. They will be supervised 100% of the time.

bigcalidave
06-15-2011, 8:19 PM
This is the E trigger thread at RFC. It's pretty damn cool. I want one.

http://www.rimfirecentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=317395

sawchain
06-15-2011, 8:29 PM
while(1) {
PullTrigger();
}

hvengel
06-16-2011, 11:04 AM
There was also a trigger a few years ago that was completely electronic. It "fired" the primer my applying an electric charge and had nearly a zero lock time. But it was perhaps 15 years ago that I read about it so I don't remember any of the details other than I read about it in the NRA Rifleman mag.

CHS
06-16-2011, 12:08 PM
There was also a trigger a few years ago that was completely electronic. It "fired" the primer my applying an electric charge and had nearly a zero lock time. But it was perhaps 15 years ago that I read about it so I don't remember any of the details other than I read about it in the NRA Rifleman mag.

Yup, problem with those is that they were designed around a completely new gun that fired "electronic" ammo.

I need to build something or source something that can be attached directly to a large range of modern firearms.

sreiter
06-16-2011, 12:20 PM
Do some research on handicapped hunting. I don't know about about cali, but i saw a show about it somewhere (60 mins???) where they had the same type of set-up to allow quadriplegic's to hunt via the net

hvengel
06-16-2011, 12:56 PM
Yup, problem with those is that they were designed around a completely new gun that fired "electronic" ammo.

I need to build something or source something that can be attached directly to a large range of modern firearms.

No the one I am thinking of used regular ammo. The electric charge was sent through the primer acting much like a spark plug and caused it to ignite. Again it was perhaps 15 years ago that there was an article about this in American Rifleman and they specifically talked about how there were other guns with electronic triggers but that these all required special ammo. So the unusual thing about this trigger system was that it worked with existing ammo and could be fitted to existing guns. I don't know what happened to the company or if they are still around. I remember the article saying that the company was selling a version of an existing gun that had been fitted with the trigger (I think it was a modified Sako bolt action) that fired factory .223 ammo and they actually tested the gun and had the normal American Rifleman test report as part of the article.

loose_electron
06-16-2011, 1:03 PM
The electronics are pretty easy, but the issue is going to be in the legal questions.

What is your need and application? The circuits and mechanics are pretty straightforward. (Yeah, read my user name, I do electronics for a living.)

Scott Connors
06-16-2011, 1:08 PM
There was also a trigger a few years ago that was completely electronic. It "fired" the primer my applying an electric charge and had nearly a zero lock time. But it was perhaps 15 years ago that I read about it so I don't remember any of the details other than I read about it in the NRA Rifleman mag.

IIRC, that rifle was a single-shot that used caseless ammunition. Can't remember who made it.

Sgt5811
06-16-2011, 2:01 PM
Check out ROWS in 10CFR or google the hell out of it. It's been around for a while and is recognized by the ATF.

Kharn
06-16-2011, 2:08 PM
There was also a trigger a few years ago that was completely electronic. It "fired" the primer my applying an electric charge and had nearly a zero lock time. But it was perhaps 15 years ago that I read about it so I don't remember any of the details other than I read about it in the NRA Rifleman mag.It was a Remington bolt action, ElectronX comes to mind.

Any semiauto with an electronic firing system will be classified as an MG by the ATF because of the potential for modification to fire automatically.

CHS
06-16-2011, 2:49 PM
The electronics are pretty easy, but the issue is going to be in the legal questions.

What is your need and application? The circuits and mechanics are pretty straightforward. (Yeah, read my user name, I do electronics for a living.)

Exactly. I'm not worried about the electronics/mechanics. I have people :)

I'm really curious about the ATF and what can be done to ease their fears. That's why I had the idea of a separate automatic lockout with manual override. So you fire the gun, and it disables itself until you actually flip another switch, which makes it "ready" again.

Also, an analog circuit should be much easier to design in such a way that makes it hard/impossible to convert to fully-auto as opposed to just sticking a small PIC or Atmel microcontroller on there which could simply be reprogrammed.

CCWFacts
06-16-2011, 3:10 PM
I can't imagine that any software-controlled switch on a semi-auto will be legally acceptable. There's no way. As someone else pointed out, if it's software-controlled, you can write while(1) { ... } and then it's an MG. Even if the magazine can hold only two rounds, if it's software-controlled then it's very easy to fire those two rounds with a single command.

The situation with electronic triggers (such as on Olympic-style guns) is totally different. Those aren't software controlled. You can't write a while(1) loop because there's no microcontroller that could run it. They are essentially the same level of smarts as a doorbell circuit.

If you're controlling fire through a web page, it's a software-controlled gun and there's no way those wouldn't be considered MGs, unless it's physically a single-shot gun, like a bolt action and the bolt needs to be operated manually by someone physically there.

wash
06-16-2011, 3:12 PM
I think as long as the triggering and reset are done over a network, there is potential to automate it and create a "machine gun".

There are lots of Internet polls and contests that have been hacked, even after they require stuff like Captcha for every entry, people can enter en masse with some hacking.

I just can't see a way to network it unless the reset is done on site, by hand, essentially making it a single shot.

CCWFacts
06-16-2011, 3:17 PM
I just can't see a way to network it unless the reset is done on site, by hand, essentially making it a single shot.

That's right.

People have also come up with other clever ideas. The MG definition says that it's a MG if it shoots more than once per pull of trigger. What if you had a software controller that counts trigger pulls and stores them up, so you could pull the trigger, say, ten times, it would count ten trigger pulls, and then you would somehow "release" those ten pulls at all once. Would it be an MG? It has fired once per trigger pull! But it would still be an MG because whatever was the final action that started it firing was, in reality, the trigger. The previous "trigger pulls" were not really trigger pulls because they didn't trigger anything.

There's no clever hacks that will let us have access to MGs. If you want to own an MG, take a non-shooting friend to the range, join the NRA, vote, etc.

And any software-controlled trigger, connected to any gun that isn't physically a single-shot gun, is going to be considered an MG.

CHS
06-16-2011, 4:04 PM
I just can't see a way to network it unless the reset is done on site, by hand, essentially making it a single shot.

Right. That's what I've said it will be, several times:

An automatic lockout with manual (on-site) override.

Which also means that it's disconnected from and doesn't care about how strict or loose the security on the website is. Even if someone writes a for loop, the gun will fire once, and then the lockout will have to be overridden by the onsite RSO, where it will then fire again, once.


There's no clever hacks that will let us have access to MGs. If you want to own an MG, take a non-shooting friend to the range, join the NRA, vote, etc.


No one is looking for a clever hack to have MG's. This is for a promotion. There are other reasons BESIDES the ATF that we want to slow down the rate of fire.

CCWFacts
06-16-2011, 4:15 PM
Right. That's what I've said it will be, several times:

An automatic lockout with manual (on-site) override.

Which also means that it's disconnected from and doesn't care about how strict or loose the security on the website is. Even if someone writes a for loop, the gun will fire once, and then the lockout will have to be overridden by the onsite RSO, where it will then fire again, once.

If that lock-out is physical (not software) then it would probably make it not-a-MG. But there could be plenty of other legal issues besides MGness.

No one is looking for a clever hack to have MG's. This is for a promotion. There are other reasons BESIDES the ATF that we want to slow down the rate of fire.

Oh I know you weren't trying to find a way to do an MG, I just introduced it as something that people try to do with clever electronic trigger ideas, because we're on the topic of electronic triggers. It sounds like a cool promotion idea and certainly would draw a lot of traffic to a website. And if you do have a physical lockout after every shot (ie, it's a bolt-action rifle) then I don't think it would be an MG, but who knows what other regulations are also out there.

Maybe someone should set up something like this in another country where MGs are legal. Is there a market for paying money to remote-fire an MG? MG-cam? I know I wouldn't pay for it but maybe someone would?

Kharn
06-16-2011, 4:51 PM
Right. That's what I've said it will be, several times:

An automatic lockout with manual (on-site) override.

Which also means that it's disconnected from and doesn't care about how strict or loose the security on the website is. Even if someone writes a for loop, the gun will fire once, and then the lockout will have to be overridden by the onsite RSO, where it will then fire again, once.
The only "lock out" the ATF would accept is the RSO manually loading the next round into the chamber by hand.

adamsreeftank
06-16-2011, 5:04 PM
If are going to have someone there to "reset" the trigger after the gun is fired, you are awfully close to just having them pull the trigger. Unless you absolutely need the remote person to actually fire the weapon, you could just have the on-site guy sit and wait for the green light from the server. Light goes green - he pulls the trigger - etc, etc.

GrizzlyGuy
06-16-2011, 5:06 PM
Don't know what your intended purpose is, but look into Fish and Game Code 2007 and 3003.


There's no hunting involved. And the firearms will be monitored actively by two people at all times, not to mention the dozens of other people that will be around anyways. This isn't one of those hunting cases where we would be dropping off some guns in some remote location. They will be supervised 100% of the time.

Hunting doesn't matter, read Fish and Game Code 2007 (http://law.onecle.com/california/fish/2007.html), it makes what you want to do questionable:

It is unlawful to set, cause to be set, or placed any trap gun.

A "trap gun" is a firearm loaded with other than blank cartridges and connected with a string or other contrivance contact with which will cause the firearm to be discharged.

Your whiz-bang gizmo including its control system is the "contrivance". It is "contacted" by the user when they hit the control system's fire button (even if via remote mouse click over the Internet or whatever).

BulZi
06-16-2011, 5:56 PM
I know that the BATFE gets "twitchy" as soon as electronics and triggers become concerned due to how close to "machinegun" status they feel they bring the firearms.

How do you know this? Did you hear it from someone you trust? Read it on the internet (aka internet lore)? Perhaps first-hand knowledge?

In truth, there is very little in the way of official written ATF guidance on electronic systems integrated into firearms, whether single shot or multi-shot. However, what little guidance there is clearly indicates that whether purely mechanical or electromechanical, the exact same rules apply for any gun. As long as the gun fires no greater than one shot per function of the trigger, it is legally not a machine gun under federal law.

The ATF has permitted the sale of electronic triggers in many firearms including single shot rifles and semiautomatic pistols in the US for many years. A recent ATF letter posted on Calguns dealt with an electronic trigger system for AR-15 type rifles.

http://calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=408555

The ATF inferred that the purpose of this electronic device was to facilitate "bump fire" and then repeated guidance in an earlier letter pertaining directly to "bump fire" - which is to say that modifications (electronic, mechanical, or otherwise) to a trigger system which make the trigger easier to pull or easier to pull rapidly are not, in and of themselves, enough to render the device a machine gun.

The "function of the trigger" has been elucidated in certain letters to require the direct, intentional action of a human operator.

What you describe requires a human operator (on site) to perform the function of "disconnector" in a fire control system - to allow reset after the first fire. However, since the first (or any subsequent) shot could be fired purely by unconscious mechanical means (not requiring a human action to cause the "trigger" to function) then I believe you are much closer to an illegal trap gun or spring gun than most simple electronic trigger systems (because they require a human operator to consciously "function" the trigger, with a passive "reset" which is allowed to commence when the human releases the trigger).

Once again, the problem is causality and order of operations - the action of the on-site human operator is necessary to fire the "next" shot - but not the "current shot" of a ready gun, which can be fired by non-human action if someone has written a script to interact with your code. If the human on site resets the mechanism and an "unconscious" script has already been set to fire it, then the next shot will fire with no further human action - One could argue that in this case, the "trigger" (as legally defined) has actually now become the human-operated reset device - but since the human operating the device might not have a way of knowing that the reset device is now the trigger, the firing event he causes during reset would therefore be an unintentional firing. In essence, he is now setting or helping to set a trap gun, whether he is aware of it or not, because someone has created code which will cause the device to function as a trap gun.

In the hypothetical case of a device which "stores up" several pulls of a trigger and then fires that number of shots on the next pull, the problem is again that the device functions as an acausal filter which stores signal information. The "one-shot-per-function" rule precludes any mechanism (whether digital electronic, analog electronic, mechanical ratchet) which "stores up" firing signal information and then automatically fires multiple shots upon a single willful action. The mechanism must offer one choice to the shooter - to fire a single shot, or not to fire any shots. It can't create a situation where the choice is to fire "more than one shot" or "no shots."

I don't think any federal law or ATF ruling has expressly ruled on remotely-fired firearms. The same laws and rules would probably apply to someone pulling a firearm trigger with a string across a state line - even if there was not an explicit federal rule, the activity would probably have to be legal on both sides and at all points in between.

I would be most concerned with California law, and also the laws of every other state, locality, etc which may be involved. If you inadvertently break some French or British law, you might never be able to legally visit there without being arrested.

BoxesOfLiberty
06-16-2011, 6:02 PM
Hunting doesn't matter, read Fish and Game Code 2007 (http://law.onecle.com/california/fish/2007.html), it makes what you want to do questionable:



Your whiz-bang gizmo including its control system is the "contrivance". It is "contacted" by the user when they hit the control system's fire button (even if via remote mouse click over the Internet or whatever).

The quoted section *can* be read that way, but that strikes me as over-broad.

The whiz-bang gizmo (including its control system) in question here is the firearm's trigger.

By extension, we could consider any conventional firearm's trigger to be a "contrivance", and therefore the act of charging a firearm -- any firearm equipped with a contrivance (or "trigger" if you prefer) -- is the prohibited act. That is clearly not what is intended.

BulZi
06-16-2011, 6:20 PM
There is a legal definition of "contrivance" which includes devices and mechanisms.

What makes a "trap gun" illegal is that the person who sets it creates a lethal hazard and surrenders control of that lethal hazard to blind fate. Even if there weren't a specific statute that mentions this in the case of firearms, there are other laws that prevent man-traps, etc.

The unique wrinkle here is that the "trap" may partially exist due to the action of some remote unseen nefarious coder, and partially due to the entity responsible for setting up the gun hooked to the internet (criminal recklessness, negligence, etc.).

A prosecutor could probably charge both of them if someone was hurt. A hurt party could probably sue both parties as well.

mag360
06-16-2011, 6:44 PM
i'd like to stick a couple of these at my front door mounted on some servo's connected to a joystick. Smile for the "camera" :D :D

SilentPea
06-16-2011, 10:07 PM
Big Cali got the link to the eTrigger for 10/22s. Actually I believe "Bulzi" is the one behind the eTrigger.... It is the only production one I have heard of personally.

There was a hypothetical one for AR-15s posted here on CalGuns as well, but as far as I know -- there isn't a physical device.

BulZi
06-17-2011, 5:15 AM
Other currently-available semiautos (that come from the factory with electronic triggers) include the Pardini SP1-E and the MatchGuns MG2E (designed by Cesare Morini).

scarville
06-17-2011, 7:38 AM
Remember that a shoe-string tied to a AR15 makes it a machine gun.

"A Shoestring Is A Machinegun” –Says BATFE (http://jpfo.org/common-sense/cs55.htm)

sreiter
06-17-2011, 8:00 AM
If are going to have someone there to "reset" the trigger after the gun is fired, you are awfully close to just having them pull the trigger. Unless you absolutely need the remote person to actually fire the weapon, you could just have the on-site guy sit and wait for the green light from the server. Light goes green - he pulls the trigger - etc, etc.

You could have mechanical timer in between network connection and actuator that pulls the trigger that stops any electrical current flow for a given time period.

Hell, you could build a digital circuit delay, constructed with a prom burner. No way to hack that short of physically removing it signal path.

sreiter
06-17-2011, 8:06 AM
http://www.paintballsentry.com/

RxBa5bQfTGc

6QcfZGDvHU8

rdmmdr
06-17-2011, 8:54 AM
The string and solenoid is not an issue since all ammo manufactures use a remote system when load testing. The question of the system being hacked, if you have an on site reset between shots even if someone hacks it all you end up with is a release trigger. Someone is going to have to feed it anyway so what is the issue?