I really don’t care much about bump stocks. Well actually, I do and here’s why.
What I really care about is the protection of constitutional liberty and the ownership of personal property. Bump stocks are just the item du jour being targeted. As many of our readers know; I owned one as a range toy. For me I don’t need any reason to own a bump stock other than than it brings a smile to my face when I use it.
I’ve been fighting and trying to raise awareness of what is happening here in Florida, but on the federal level we are also very much at risk. According to Reuters, the President recently stated the following during a White House news conference:
“We’re knocking out bump stocks. We’re in the final two or three weeks, and I’ll be able to write out bump stocks. We are now at the final stages of the procedure,” President Trump said.
I believe we should be concerned with the President ordering an agency of the executive branch to effectively re-write a law passed by Congress to mean something completely different than what was originally passed.
The National Firearms Act defines “machine gun” as “any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” 26 U.S.C. 5845(b).
A bump stock in no way meets any of those criteria. And that’s why the ATF approved them for sale back in 2010.
The issue at hand is that we have the President overtaking and bypassing Congress by usurping the power of our elected representatives based on what he perceives as popular demand. This is very much a crossing of jurisdictional authority that the Founders wanted to prevent when they drafted the Constitution.
President Trump is doing something similar to what President Obama did with DACA. Except that with this move, the president is setting a dangerous precedent for future administrations to use to impose new and more restrictive gun control laws at a whim.
If the executive branch can re-write the law by fiat through new regulatory interpretation, unilaterally banning certain types of firearms or firearm accessories, there’s nothing they can’t do. The next administration could declare that all semi-automatic firearms that can fire more than X number of rounds per minute are machine guns. That is no more, or less, arbitrary than the current proposed rule.
In the past, when the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms declared open bolt semi-automatic firearms to be readily convertible to machine guns in 1982; they banned any future production. But they didn’t restrict the ownership of any (up to then) currently-produced guns. But because of that ruling, you can’t even build an open bolt single shot firearm without a Special Occupation Tax because, according to ATF, it can be readily converted to a machine gun.
This bump stock ruling could similarly eventually be applied to anything that can be bump-fired, meaning any semi-automatic firearm can now be targeted.
We’ve seen this on the state level when Massachusetts’ Attorney General Maura Healey issued a notice to all firearms vendors and manufacturers that once compliant rifles are now considered assault weapons per the Similarity Test and Interchangeability Test. She ruled that they fall under the interpretation that once-legal firearms are now Copy or Duplicate (and therefore a prohibited), even if it is marketed as “state compliant” or “Massachusetts compliant.”
The other major issue is that, in the past, production while restricted in the future. Ownership of already-produced items wasn’t banned. Open bolt firearms and later Striker Street Sweeper shotguns, when classified as destructive devices, have all be grandfathered and protected for continued ownership. But this new ruling on bump stocks could very well make their possession illegal.
Such a reimagined regulation of bump fire stocks and a ban on ownership would force a lawsuit to overturn it and prevent future arbitrary regulatory changes. If gun rights supporters were to ultimately lose, it would open ourselves up to future arbitrary, non-legislative gun control by fiat.
Given the 50/50 nature of the electorate, there’s a very good chance that we’ll have another Democrat administration in two or six years. Is this kind of regulatory power something you’d want to see President Kamala Harris wield? Or President Beto O’Rourke?
If the ATF reclassifies bump stocks as machine guns as most observers expect, that’s exactly what President Trump will do. This is a very disturbing abuse of executive and regulatory authority, and yet another piece of the cake we are losing.