They have a national history that goes back four score and five years to the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA 1934).1 Being unable to succeed in their goal in one fell swoop, they have implemented bans on various firearms; and created a slowly growing list of prohibited persons who may no longer legally possess firearms.
Here is a short list of just some of their actions, both nationally and in various states and localities:
- 1911 - Sullivan Law in New York
- 1981 - Morton Grove, Illinois gun ban
- 1982 - Chicago gun ban
- 1990 - Mayland Saturday Night Special ban
- 1986 - Hughes Amendment gun ban
- 1997 - Lautenberg Amendment people ban
- 2018 - A proliferation of Red Flag laws, including one proposed in Tennessee.
- Folding or telescoping stock
- Pistol grip
- Bayonet mount
- Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
- Grenade launcher
This Federal ban, which had a ten year sunset, could have been called a lipstick and eye-shadow ban because of the fact that it had no effect on the functionality of a firearm. It also included a ten round magazine capacity limit. A number of states and municipalities passed similar bans which are still in effect. Recently, there has been a spate of similar Goldilocks bans passed around the country.
With that bit of history, we come to bump stocks.
|Screen shot from NRA site, 1-29-19|
Bump stocks were reported to be found at the site of the Las Vegas massacre. Eventually the NRA issued this statement: "The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations."2
Then, President Trump ordered the ATF to make a rule banning bump stocks.
Several lawsuits have been filed following the ATF's issuing their rule. Some interesting things of note in these proceedings. According to the complaint filed in the suit by David Codrea et al,
- The FBI refused to let ATF examine the guns that were found in the Vegas hotel.
- Codrea has legal possession of an Akins Accelerator, which should assure he has standing in the suit.
- The deceased person identified as the perpetrator in that incident was reported to have had enough wealth to have legally purchased any number of fully automatic weapons. These weapons are still readily available to those who have sufficient funds. Note, the NFA 1934 was not an outright ban, but imposed a $200 tax meant to be prohibitive.
- The FBI has refused a FOIA request for data stating bumpstocks were actually used in the Vegas massacre.
The United States has a government with three branches, the Legislative, the Judicial, and the Executive. We have seen a dangerous history of one branch usurping power from another. While I agree with the president on many of his policies, which are proper for his position, on this he stepped over the line into legislation. From Hardy:
"ATF has ruled at least ten times that a bumpstock is not an MG..." -but now they are by executive fiat.
This legislating from the Oval Office sets a bad precedent for future presidents who really will renew efforts toward the end goal of total disarmament.
-------------------------------------------1 I leave off discussion here of antebellum slave codes which far predated NFA 1934.
2 Never mind that videos are readily available on the web that show how to use a rubber band or belt loop to simulate fully automatic; nor the fact that fully-automatic weapons are readily available (legally) to someone with a multi-million dollar salary.
The following excerpt is from page 4 of the final police report on the Las Vegas Shooting. "From 1982 through September of 2016 the killer purchased 29 firearms. These purchases consisted of handguns, shotguns and one rifle. From October 2016 through September 2017, the killer purchased over 55 firearms. Most of the firearms purchased from 2016 through 2017 were rifles in various calibers along with over 100 firearm-related items through numerous retailers. The firearm related items included scopes, cases, bump stocks and ammunition".
So the question is what happened near October of 2016 that made him decide after 34 years of owning 29 firearms with only one rifle to purchase 55 rifles and associated accessories? We don't know, but one theory that fits the circumstances and evidence is that he was a gun guy like a lot of hunters that despise the idea of civilians owning so called "assault rifles". And to drive the point home, since it was looking like "pro-gun" Trump might be elected President, he chose to kill a lot of people in one of the few venues (isolated, inaccessible, high ground with a clear view of several targets where lots of ammunition and spare gun barrels could be stockpiled) that would a facilitate using semi-automatic rifles with bumpstocks. And since he chose a country music venue, he could take out a lot of people who were likely to disagree with his stance on guns. (Note that he rented a similar room for a punk rock festival in Chicago at an earlier date but never used it). I can't think of a better way to get popular opinion to support a ban on so-called "assault rifles" and bumpstocks.
Note, it could also be argued the shooter could have killed more people and wounded fewer if he had used a scoped, bolt action hunting rifle and selected his victims carefully working from back to front and timed his shots to be obscured by the music or noise in the crowd.
I found your article useful, but I was hoping for something it isn't. My wife is a non-shooter who is quite supportive of the 2nd Amendment and shooters, particularly including self defense. But the other day after reading an article about opposition to the bump stock ban, she challenged me to explain why there was anything wrong with the ban. I gave her a brief "slippery slope" type answer that wasn't very convincing. You've given a bunch more material. I was hoping to see it written in a way that she would read, but unfortunately it isn't. The way you wrote it is perfect for gun people, but it isn't understandable for non-gun people who are willing to be persuaded.
I'm hoping you might write such an article at some point.
Thanks, Paul Koning, for your comment. I suggest printing the piece on paper for her to read. It will look a little different there.
I'm not sure how I would change it. I think the biggest danger in this case is the 'slippery slope' of rule by executive fiat. Just as dangerous is rule by judicial fiat.
Other than that, the Congress has a history of erroneously invoking the Commerce Clause to justify any law.
A study of the Bill or Rights and the era in which it was written might be helpful. Our forbears had just thrown off the yoke of British oppression. Their philosophy regarding Liberty's Teeth was evident in the writing of the BOR. To them, the greatest threat was not the thug on the street, but the thuggery of government.
Looking at the partial history which I note above, and the recently passed laws in some jurisdictions, it is arguable that we are not on a slippery slope, but standing at the edge of a cliff.
For what it's worth, I analyzed the cell phone video of the Las Vegas shooting and found two 10 seconds burst of rapid fire. I determined the rate of fire to be approximately 600 RPM or so as it was difficult to isolate all the rounds from other noise, too slow and consistent for a bump stock which can dump 100 rounds in just over 6 seconds for a rate of fire around 900 RPM, equivalent to the M16.I looked at the audio waveform to count the peaks of each shot, but some were indistinguishable from the noise, so best guess. The most likely firearm used was a M249 Light Machine Gun in 5.56 which at 600 RPM is near the low end of the cyclic fire rate of 650 RPM and uses 100 round belts or 20 round Stanag Magazines. From the length of the two bursts of fire it is obvious that belts were use to feed the weapon.
So there are 2 scenarios. He was able to illegally obtain a full auto modern machine gun, or he legally bought a pre-1986 transferable machine gun of comparable firepower.
No way was a bump stock used, even thought he FBI says they were present, OR PLANTED ON PURPOSE.
The FBI is covering up something they don't want us to know.
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