Reader Armchair Command’oh writes:
I see a lot of criticism in the comments about the NRA’s statement on bump fire stocks. These comments, however, don’t quite capture just how dangerous the NRA’s strategy is. Of all the approaches we could possibly take . . .
(1) “not one inch”
(2) bump stock ban in exchange for something we want
(3) grab our ankles and totally surrender, the NRA chose to make up a new option that happens to be the worst one imaginable.
For the past few years the gun community has gotten a lot of things approved by exploiting technicalities in the language of the NFA. For example Echo/Binary triggers are legal because the NFA defines a machine gun based on a single “function” of the trigger, not a single “pull.”
The ATF has conceded that SIG Braces can be shouldered because shouldering a pistol does not remake it a rifle. Basically, the ATF is applying the statute as written, unlike many other government agencies, and we are getting functional work-arounds to parts of the NFA.
With their stance on regulation of bump fire stocks, the NRA is advocating that pressure be put on the ATF to look at the spirit of the law, not the actually letter of the law as written. Moreover, Republicans in Congress have sent a letter to the ATF requesting the same.
They are doing this so that Republicans can avoid a vote on this issue. Republicans in Congress don’t want to go on record for a ban, since they fear voters’ wrath and primary challenges. They know that if they vote against the ban, they will be hammered over it electorally.
So, both Republicans and the NRA are trying to get the ATF to solve the problem for them. But in doing so they’re setting a dangerous precedent of having the ATF decide what a gun law was supposed to do, then fudging the language to get the desired result. That is a terrible idea.
The only restraint on government regulatory over-reach is the language of the law, and letting the ATF enforce whatever it arbitrarily determines was a regulation’s intent is a recipe for disaster. To allow that would mean the almost immediate regulation of bump stocks. SIG Braces probably wouldn’t be far behind.
AR pistols themselves could even be deemed AOWs, since they’re not really what Congress meant when they defined what constitutes a pistol. The same goes for those short barreled shotgun-like firearms (e.g. Mossberg 590 Shockwave). And the list goes on.
The NRA is traveling down a dangerous road with their current strategy. Whether it’s too late to be turned around now remains to be seen.