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.