As an avid firearms enthusiast, I often find myself in the middle of robust conversations about the politics and philosophy of private firearms ownership in the United States. I’ve become a seasoned veteran of these debates over the years and have come to expect the wailing, emotional hordes and trademark hypocrisy of the victim disarmament crowd as routine. I’ve seen and heard so many depraved things from the rabid, anti-gun left that I am surprised by almost nothing anymore. Unfortunately, what has been particularly shocking and disappointing recently, is how vigorously my Republican friends have defended gun control in the form of the Trump bump stock ban.
“It’s just a range toy; they’re stupid anyhow” or “What do you need a bump stock for anyway?” are some of the most common arguments I have heard over the last few months. As disheartening as it is to have to point out to my “conservative” friends the obvious flaws with the “who needs a ____ anyway?” argument, or the very obvious slippery slope to which this leads, is how little thought anyone has really put into this issue. Most people don’t own a bump stock and therefore just don’t care. Regardless of your level of enthusiasm for the right to bear arms, the fact remains that there are numerous reasons why banning or letting the ATF re-classify a bump stock as a machine gun is a horrible idea, so I’ll go through them one at a time.
- The term “machine gun” is defined as: “any weapon which shoots…. automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” – NFA 26 U.S.C 5485(b). As anyone who has watched a YouTube video knows, a bump stock harnesses the recoil of the firearm to speed up the individual actions of the trigger, however, they remain individual. You are pulling the trigger fast, but they are still individual trigger pulls. The weapon still fires one round per trigger action, therefore, is “semi-automatic” according to the National Firearms Act of 1934. Machine guns are machine guns and bump stocks aren’t, no matter how much you want them to be. The ATF reviewed and confirmed this not once, but twice under Obama.
- Banning them under the guise of being a “rate increasing device” is equally, and possibly more, dangerous. The reason is that to establish a definition for “rate increasing device”, the ATF must first establish a “standard rate of fire” for all weapons. Not just AR-15s and semi-autos. All firearms. Pump action shotguns, grandad’s old bolt-action Enfield, even single-shot black powder rifles. A future President who is not as friendly to guns (and we’re gonna get one here soon, you just watch) could and would likely use this rule for future infringement. How many times have we heard the ridiculous line that “the founders were talking about muskets?” Think a President Feinstein wouldn’t love to outlaw everything but flintlocks by executive fiat? It’s the gun banners wet dream. This bump stock thing is nothing more than a back-door ban on your AR-15s and who knows what else.
- To allow the President, any President, to arbitrarily change the interpretation of the law, any law, to mean something that it clearly does not…. is a terrible idea! It sets an extremely dangerous precedent that gives too much power to the executive branch. Ironically, the Second Amendment was designed to protect against just that sort of thing, but I’ll come back to that in a minute. Laws are made by Congress, not the President. People seem to conveniently forget this fact when its “their guy” who is making up the rules as he goes. Once again, even Obama knew he couldn’t do this and if he’d tried, screams of “tyranny!” and “treason!” would’ve rung from the hills while all of America simultaneously racked a round, but I digress.
- The whole reason we have bump stocks anyway is due to the unconstitutional National Firearms Act of 1934, which banned full-autos. The right to keep and bear arms isn’t for shooting deer, it’s for shooting at the government should they ever get too far out of line. And to let the same tyrannical government dictate what type of arms the people might keep and bear defeats the entire purpose of the Second Amendment. They spelled it out so abruptly clear that it should boggle any sane mind that there is even a debate. We have the right to keep and bear arms. Period. Not muskets, not hunting rifles, not AK47s with bump stocks. Arms. Which means all of the above, including ship cannons, belt-fed machine guns, and military grade ordinance, specifically for protection from our government. We don’t need the ATF to tell us what “shall not be infringed” means. What it means, among other things, is that there should be no ATF.
- For the one-millionth time, it’s called a Bill of Rights, not a Bill of Needs. You don’t have to show a “need” to go to church. You don’t have to show a “need” to speak freely. You don’t have to show a “need” before being read your Miranda rights. I could go on, but I think you get the point. I don’t particularly “need” a bump stock for anything. But I will passionately defend anyone’s right to own one as they see fit and so should you.
It bears noting that within hours of the rule change, Gun Owners of America and The Firearms Policy Coalition sued the ATF and the Trump administration while the NRA blew up everyone’s inbox asking for money. Ironically, the NRA (in an effort to “supposedly” mitigate the fallout from the Vegas massacre) backed the proposed rule change, effectively creating this boogeyman from which they now promise to defend you. The NRA can be found behind every major piece of gun control in the history of this country, bartering away rights with one hand and soliciting donations with the other. For that reason, I make my yearly contribution to a no-compromise advocacy group and I encourage you to do the same. I like Gun Owners of America, but The Firearms Policy Coalition and National Association for Gun Rights are good, too. It’s time to stop conceding.