The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) calls binary triggers “forced reset triggers,” which are a device added to firearms to increase the speed of firing. Intended use can double the number of rounds expelled by the firearm.
The exact way the mechanism works is a multi-step process. Basically, it shoots one round when the trigger is pulled and once when the trigger is released, doubling the round count. Unless another feature (a safety selector) is added that deters the process, a second round is always expelled when the trigger is released.
Unlike a standard semi-automatic trigger, a binary trigger has two separate firing options. The first option allows you to fire a single round of ammunition every time you press the trigger. It is very similar to any other semi-automatic weapon. On the other hand, with a single flip of the switch, you can switch the weapon to a binary mode.
For more context, when the trigger is pulled, the “sear”, two sharp metallic edges that sit held together, breaks. When these sharp edges rotate slightly, they release the hammer, striking the firing pin, making contact with the cartridge primer, and firing a shot. Normally, after the trigger is pulled, the hammer resets as the whole process cycles.
The binary trigger has a disconnector that holds the trigger in a rear position that prevents automatic fire, and once the user lets go of the trigger, the sear breaks again. The reason this doesn’t count as a bump stock, which makes weapons much more automatic, is that this mechanism is completely dependent on the release of the trigger.
A binary trigger can provide a wide range of benefits. The biggest benefit of a binary trigger is that it allows you to control the rate of fire better. If you are in a situation where you do not need a high rate of fire and you are interested in conserving ammunition, you can keep the binary trigger flipped off.
Then, if the situation changes and you need to increase your rate of fire, you can do so with a single push of a button. There are a lot of people who are interested in using binary triggers for competitions, but it can also come in handy for self-defense purposes. Keep in mind that binary triggers could be illegal, depending on where you are located.
The United States is not a place that often bans any action or product outright. In general, the federal government leaves a lot up to each state individually to decide what they will and won’t ban. With this in mind, it’s not much of a surprise that binary triggers are legal in the United States.
In March of 2022, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has written an open letter to gun owners addressing their feelings and procedures regarding binary triggers. Because they do not make a firearm fully automatic, they are not considered illegal under the Bump Stock Ban, which was passed in 2018 in response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 and injured 17.
Furthermore, a binary trigger does not require an extensive amount of paperwork, which is typically required for a Tommy Gun. A bump stock essentially allows a semi-automatic weapon to fire a continuous stream of ammunition even though the trigger might only be pressed once. Furthermore, binary trigger weapons are not considered fully automatic. Therefore, they do not fall under the category of machine guns.
Yes, there are nine states, along with the District of Columbia, that have banned binary triggers. While these devices are legal on a federal level, that doesn’t stop states from making their own rules in this context. States that have either banned them explicitly, included language that can be taken as a ban, or completely excluded any references to binary triggers.
The states below are of the first and second categories: where they have been banned or the legislature is framed in a way that can be considered illegal.
Being one of the more strict states in terms of gun laws, California specifically bans “multi burst trigger activators” which they define in two ways. The first is any device that can be attached to a semi-automatic weapon that makes the firearm able to discharge two or more rounds when the device is activated. The second definition involves a “manual or power-driven trigger activating device” that is made to increase the rate of firing.
While the first definition doesn’t go near binary triggers, the second was written with the intention of banning binary triggers and does so.
Senate Bill Number 8 was amended to include a “rapid fire device” that is any device or accessory that can be added to a semi-automatic weapon to increase the rate of fire, which definitively bans binary triggers. The only hiccup with this legislation is that there is a specific tie to rifles, which makes the illegality of usage of any other kind of weapon a question.
In HB5728, the Illinois legislature “prohibits the knowing sale, manufacture, purchase, possession, or carrying of a rate of fire enhancement.” The bill also goes on to cover every possible interpretation of “a rate of fire enhancement”, including any device that is “constructed, manufactured, designed or intended to mechanically increase the rate of fire in any way”. This language, of course, bans binary triggers.
The state of Maryland legislature specifically defines a “rapid fire trigger activator” as anything that can be attached to the firearm and increases the rate of fire, which is later clarified to include bump stocks, trigger cranks, binary trigger systems, burst trigger systems or a copy of such devices.
In Rhode Island’s general laws, Title 11 explains criminal offenses, the legislature clearly states that it is “unlawful for any person to possess a bump-fire device, binary trigger, trigger crank, or any other device that when attached to a semi-automatic weapon allows full-automatic fire.”
Binary Trigger Legality
|District of Columbia||Banned|