Government Regulation: Our mistake, you pay
Bill Akins describes how his Akins Accelerator operates when a rifle is attached. The patented device, which allows target shooters to convert a rifle into a simulated fully automatic weapon, has been declared a machine gun by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
By Christian Wade of The Tampa Tribune
Published: December 18, 2007
HUDSON - It was a simple idea, with big potential.
For years, marksmen have been using a technique called bump firing, shooting a semiautomatic rifle from the hip and allowing the weapon's recoil to pull the trigger.
With federal regulations keeping fully automatic weapons out of their hands, it was one of the few ways for firearm enthusiasts to enjoy the thrill of firing a machine gun.
If there was only a way to simulate that action, Bill Akins wondered, by creating a device that mechanized the recoil resistance to fire more rapid, and accurate, bursts of bullets.
Thus, the Akins Accelerator was born.
Akins, 54, is an expert marksman, ex-Marine, Elvis impersonator, seventh-generation Floridian and member of the National Rifle Association.
The Hudson man spent nearly a decade designing his Accelerator. He got a patent for his invention. Then he poured his life savings into marketing and producing it for distribution.
In the era of gun control laws, the device promised to revolutionize target shooting.
"They were selling like hotcakes," Akins said. "We were truly amazed by the response."
That was until the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives banned the Accelerator — two years after approving it.
To the ATF, the mechanism is an illegal converter kit that, if it fell into the wrong hands, could turn a run-of the-mill target rifle into a 700-round-per-minute killing machine.
Under the threat of imprisonment, officials ordered Akins to cease production, turn over the recoil springs from his existing stock and hand over his customer list.
And they didn't give him a dime in return.
More than five years later, Akins is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.
His business partner has severed ties with his company. His investors have bailed. He has a warehouse in Oregon filled with more than $750,000 worth of useless stock. His reputation has been sullied by trade publications that once praised his invention. . . .