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The Michael Bloomberg-funded gun control propaganda organization The Trace seems to have once again proven that their raison d’etre is not (as their writers have claimed) to provide fair and accurate reporting on guns and the issues surrounding them. Instead they exist to regurgitate the same illogical emotional arguments the civilian disarmament crowd have been using for decades in an attempt to convince Americans that they’re better off without guns, except this time wrapped in a false promise of impartial reporting. The focus of their recent article was on bumpfire stocks, and while the tone is pretty much what you’d expect the difference is that they seem to be trying to use our words (TTAG’s, specifically) to argue for outlawing them . . .

You don’t even get past the title before you know where this is going: “AR-15 Lovers Are Getting Fully Automatic Thrills with Barely Legal Gadgets.” RF may be more familiar with that phrase “barely legal” in other contexts, but in this case it foreshadows the argument they’ve generated quite nicely. And I quote:

Though an AR-15 fitted with a Bump Fire stock can fire hundreds of rounds per minute, the ATF found the add-on doesn’t turn a semi-automatic rifle into a machine gun. The devices are just this side of legal.

The payday loan business may be accurately characterized as “barely legal,” but there’s there’s nothing even marginal about bumpfire stocks. After enduring years of ATF scrutiny they have been pronounced 100% kosher in the form of FTB letters. But The Trace paints these perfectly legal devices as something that should have been banned from the word go.

The bumpfire stock concept is every bit as legal as Michael Bloomberg dumping millions of dollars into political campaigns across the United States trying to influence voters to embrace his notions of “common sense” gun control (that they didn’t want in the first place).

Hint to The Trace‘s “journos”: if you’re goal is to appear impartial and fair, you might want to leave the self-righteous contempt out of your work.

The rest of the article is all too predictable. They make the argument that since these accouterments make it easy for the average person to fire really really fast (which is very scary for the writers apparently) then the ATF should consider it a machine gun and ban it. There’s just one problem: a complete lack of legal basis to make that judgement.

There’s a very specific definition of a “machine gun” that the writers at The Trace seem to have completely failed to investigate which would have cleared up this whole question of legality for them. Instead they try to use one of our snarky comments about the device against us.

Some experts are puzzled over how newer add-ons like the Bump Fire stock have passed government scrutiny. Robert Farago, who runs the pro-gun website The Truth About Guns, wrote in 2010 with some amazement that Slide Fire’s SSAR-15 was legal “for the rest of the day, anyway.” He called the company’s disclaimer (which said the device “does not increase the rate of fire” on its own) “disingenuous.”

And here Robert thought that I was the only one who’d be quoted in the article. In case you couldn’t tell, Robert’s crack about the Bump Fire’s legality was a shot at the ATF whose determinations as to the legality of firearms accessories can be, shall we say, arbitrary and capricious. He clearly wasn’t commenting on the device itself, but instead whether the ATF was going to step in and put a stop to the fun no matter what the law says. It was a rap on the ATF, not that The Trace cares much.

They contacted me for a quote last week before the story was written, and in furtherance of my aforementioned long term strategy of talking to even the anti-gun media in hopes of showing them the errors of their ways. I cooperated and reiterated exactly what I had stated in the review. To their credit they played it straight…well, mostly.

Gun writer Nicholas Leghorn, who reviewed the Bump Fire for The Truth About Guns, tells The Trace that he thinks it would appeal most to shooters who “want something to show that they’re the cool guy on the range.” According to Leghorn, that’s one of the main reasons that people buy so-called “black rifles” like the AR-15 in the first place. He compares the rifle to another classic American toy: “The point of the AR-15 is that it’s a Barbie doll for guns,” says Leghorn. Just as Barbie fans need playsets, wardrobes, and cars to maximize their Barbie fun, so AR-15 owners need to customize their rifles to fully convey their rugged self-image.


Some gun experts question the zombie-slaying efficacy of bump firing. In his review of the Bump Fire Systems stock for The Truth About Guns, Leghorn wrote that “the entire concept is a gimmicky toy.”

“There’s nothing you can really use it for,” Leghorn adds. “It’s not reliable enough to use in a self defense situation. It’s not going to give added benefit in a hunting situation.”

I actually corrected myself during the interview, saying that an AR was really more like a Lego set than a Barbie doll, but close enough for Bloomberg-funded work. Just because something is a scary looking gimmick doesn’t mean it should be outlawed.

In support of their thesis The Trace pulled out one solitary example of a “mass shooting” in which the attacker had a bump fire product attached to his gun, but failed to connect the dots that the carnage was increased specifically due to the existence of the device. I meant it when I said there’s nothing you can use it for — mass killing included. The fine motor skills required to make a gun bumpfire simply disappear under the dump of adrenaline felt in a real life shooting situation.

What The Trace is trying to do is lay the groundwork for a push to include bumpfire devices in a future gun control proposal. They weren’t able to prove that these devices increase the body count of murders or are used widely in mass shootings (because they don’t and they aren’t) so they are trying the back door.

Just the notion that the average American can buy these things and make their gun shoot faster is enough to give the average New Yorker the vapors. Add in just a little bit of color using selected (out of context) comments from prominent gun rights advocates and you’ve got yourself a gun control campaign. The truth is that these devices don’t pose a danger to the public, but The Trace won’t let facts like that get in their way.

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  1. Best hope the Trace never learns about Jerry Miculek – they’re want him banned as an illegal unregistered machine gun…

  2. Heads would explode at The Trace if someone explained to them that you dont need a special stock to bumpfire. Thumb through a belt loop does the same thing.

    • No need for belt loop. Hook your finger, shoulder the rifle, pull forward and the handguard. My Draco pistol will bumpfire if I just loosen my grip. It can be a little disconcerning.

      • I can do one better: my buddy has an extremely light custom trigger for a heavy competition AR he was building. I cant remember why, but we put my standard 16″ barrel on it, and was bump firing no problem. We didn’t even have to pull forward on the handguard, just a relaxed non-operator grip. Another guy at the range decided to try it and couldn’t bump it no matter how much he tried. We wanted to try it with the short upper, but there was the whole felony thing that we didn’t want to go anywhere near.

  3. I compared my interest in collecting weapons to doll collecting once too. Not my interest in having the first few weapons for utility but many after those. Sword collecting especially.

    • I didn’t make this doll collecting analogy while anybody who might record it somehow was about though, that’d be friggin’ crazy… Oh, wait, I just did it above:-\

  4. Nick:

    One of Don Rumsfeld’s rules is never say anything in an E-Mail that you don’t want to see in the Washington Post. A corollary to this is when you talk to the press stick to the facts without getting cute. They will use it against you.

  5. With as tempermental as the bumpfire stock I shot was and with as bothersome as it was to more conventional shooting I wouldn’t want one on a gun I trusted my life to. Definitely not “flip the selector to auto and go about your business” like real full auto.

    This is by and large dependent on the notion that people’s gun knowledge is based on Hollywood where not having to aim because you have a full auto is totally leathal. Oh, and you can fire 20 shots from a revolver without reloading.

  6. Gun writer Nicholas Leghorn, who reviewed the Bump Fire for The Truth About Guns, tells The Trace that he thinks it would appeal most to shooters who “want something to show that they’re the cool guy on the range.” According to Leghorn, that’s one of the main reasons that people buy so-called “black rifles” like the AR-15 in the first place.

    Funny. Everyone I know with an AR bought their first one as a defensive tool and check on government overreach. Shame on you, Nicholas. Shame. 😉

    • Yeah. I don’t know about this whole “cool guy at the range” thing. Maybe that’s more suited for the ARFCOM crowd? Around here folks seem more pragmatic if not openly hostile toward the “cool guy” douches.

    • You act as if there is something wrong buying a gun to look cool on the range. It might be juvenile but that shouldn’t be against the law.

      The only reason I would buy a Glock is to look cool down at the range. /sarc

    • Looking cool on the range would at the very least require that I not actually demonstrate my skill level. Wearing clothes that my mother didn’t buy for me might help too.

  7. What is amazing is that these idiots are just now realizing that the bump fire stocks are out there and what they do. These people do not have a clue about firearms. Yet they pretend to know all about them.

    • Agreed. People are supposed to panic over something that’s been around for years and has never been used to lay waste to innocents.

      If those idiots didn’t have hypotheticals they’d have little to harp about.

    • True, but I don’t know why. I suppose for the same reason that The Trace wants to get them banned–because it allows you to “spray bullets”, I suppose. What these idiots don’t realize is that “spraying bullets” is good for suppressive fire, not so much for actually hitting anything or anyone.

  8. ‘Though an AR-15 fitted with a Bump Fire stock can fire hundreds of rounds per minute…’

    Just a pet peeve of mine, but let’s say I can run 100 yards in 12 seconds. Therefore I can run 17mph. And if I can run 17mph I can run from New York, NY to Los Angeles, CA in one week (2800 miles). Except for the fact that I’d have to stop every 100 yards to gasp for breath for 5 minutes.

  9. While I suppose that reaching out to anti-gun “journalists” is admirable, telling them things like “most people buy ARs just to look cool” is not helping, Nick.

  10. Man, they sure did manipulate your words to make you sound as much like AR15 hatin’ fudd sockcuckers as they could. I read the orig articles and never got the feeling I got from how they used your quotes.

    Clearly “the trace” moniker refers to how much truth goes into their articles. Damn anti civil rights choads.

    I’ll never understand how someone who doesn’t own a pool, and doesn’t swim; can tell me f’all about how I should swim, use my pool, or even what kind of pool I can have. To change the rules of the club you have to be IN the club first.

    Cold Dead Hands. CDH, Bloomberg, CDH. FU right in your eye.

  11. On the bright side, at least they are clearly admitting that AR-15s are not off-the-shelf machine guns, as they tend to imply so very often.

  12. Not to change the subject, but I still don’t get why the ATF got in a tiff over the SIG Brace and felt the SlideFire was A OK? Thoughts anyone?

    • Follow the money. The ATF doesn’t make much money off of tax stamps for full-auto guns, because you can’t buy a new one, so it’s just the same handful of guns occasionally being traded around. Before the advent of pistols with the SIG brace, you could buy SBRs all day long, and the ATF got $200 every time you did. And people did it. Now, faux-SBR pistols are taking a big chunk out of that revenue stream, and also shining a light on how arbitrary and stupid the barrel-length restrictions really are, threatening a big chunk of the “NFA tax stamp” scheme. After all, if it’s perfectly okay for me to buy a “pistol” with a brace that works like a stock without any fuss, why do I have to get special permission to buy a “rifle” that looks and performs virtually identically?

    • A machine gun is more than one round per squeeze of the trigger. The slidefire simply makes you pull the trigger faster. It is in no way a machine gun.

      The sig brace, OTOH, was very clearly designed to be a stock that happened to be useable as a brace. Sig knows this, the ATF knows this, and gun owners know this. It happens to be just justifiable enough to not be illegal. Totally different animals.

      • So Thomas, while I understand what you’re saying, the slidefire allows me to get 900 rpm out of my AR pretty consistently and the semi auto AR wasn’t designed to shoot that way. In fact limiting machine guns in the NFA was to limit the volume of fire the average citizen “should” have. IMHO The SIG Brace was clearly designed to be a brace….and it looks like a stock…and it allows you to fire an AR pistol the way the GCA actually defines a pistol. I actually met the guy who it was designed for at Shot Show last…he lost his arm in an IED in Afghanistan.

        I’m not trying to be polemic, but I get “Stinkeye’s” response….follow the money always adds up in the end. I don’t really agree that ATF’s over-reach on the brace is in some way ok while their silence with regards to the Slidefire is deafeningly loud. Just think about what they said…it went something along the lines of if you shoulder a brace you’ve redesigned it, therefore you’ve created an sbr. Well…how easy is it to say, “shooting more than X amount of rounds per minute is redesigning the semi auto and therefore you’ve created a machine gun”?

  13. And you talked to these clowns…why, exactly?

    Did you think they wanted a “conversation”?

    Did you think you’d change their minds?

    Did you think they wouldn’t twist your own words to further their agenda?

  14. Looking at their facebook “likes”, they were stuck at just over 57k for quite a while. They just experienced a sudden bump up to 64k. Annual ‘buy some likes’?

  15. The cheapo plastic slidefire stocks really are gimmicky. The aluminum Fostech Bumpski stocks might actually be worth something, especially on a semi-auto RPK. With some practice you actually can get the accuracy up to where it needs to be as a squad automatic, even under stress. But bump fire on a regular infantry rifle is just as useless as the full auto it’s trying to mimic.

    • I have one of the bumpskis on my Saiga .308.

      Color anodized. Not hard anodized.

      Even so, Aluminum just won’t hold up.

      The premise is sound, but the execution, so far, is total crap by all companies involved in that patent catfight.

      I made one from steel tubing that is durable, reliable, actually lighter than the aluminum, and way funner…

  16. I found the following paragraph much more interesting:
    “The thrill of what’s called “bump firing” can be had without any special attachment if the shooter simply doesn’t hold the weapon’s pistol grip, allowing the gun to rattle back and forth after each shot. But this method only really works when firing from the hip, so it’s difficult to control. The Bump Fire stock, thanks to its guiding tube, can be shot from the shoulder, making it far more accurate and reliable.”
    The supposed justification for banning pistol gripped semi autos was because they allow for controlled “spray firing from the hip” and here they are saying it is difficult to control. Interesting how they change their argument to fit their agenda constantly and no one calls them out on it.

  17. A suggestion about likening the AR to something else-

    – Building your own computer. AR is modular, like a computer, and is popular because it can be assembled from various parts to suit the owne’rs intention. 22″ competition barrel, 8″ pistol length, geiselle NM trigger or Mil-spec trigger, various twist rates, iron sights or various optiocs. Everything can be chosen to customize the weapon for the owner’s intended purpose. Long range, competition long range, varmint hunter, home defense etc. etc. etc. Building your own gives one a greater sense of ownership and a much better understanding of the weapon. (although installing that first FCG is quite a challenge, I used every expletive I know in several languages, repeatedly, the first time).

    – Just like computers. You first was probably from a major manufacturer, if you got into gaming or video editing, or audio editing, you probably started buying components to suit your needs. If it broke a couple of times you probably got tired of the poor documentation as well as cost/availability of proprietary parts and hassle of bloat ware, not having the OEM OS disk. So— you start building computers, towards a goal, picking the monitor, motherboard, CPU, memory, graphics card, keyboard/mouse etc. etc. to suit our purpose. AND having the documentation and on-line support forums to provide better ability to maintain it.

  18. I could care less about bump fire stocks. I’d prefer them to cause a gun to become classified as a select-fire weapon. But I don’t care who owns select fire or even fully automatic weapons anyways.

    Really, if you polish up on your accuracy, as IV8888 demonstrated on YouTube, bump fire stocks and full auto really doesn’t help. What helps is becoming accurate, then becoming faster. The top AR15 shooter beat out IV8888 in fire rate and accuracy with a semi-auto AR15 (no select fire, no full auto).

    • Meh, Bump stocks are only considered toys because they’re treated like toys.

      I have one on my Saiga .308. It’s a monster. But the forward force applied from the left arm, meant to let it recoil, but only so much to repeat a cycle, makes it dramatically easier to keep on target than a “real” full auto. When the recoil doesn’t even reach your shoulder, it’s almost like pointing a hose with your left hand… It’ll surprise you.

      With serious practice, that is. If you keep treating it like a toy, that’s all it’ll be…


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