This week, with the stroke of a pen, President Donald Trump took a bolder Gun Control step than President Obama ever did. And, he’s done it with the protection of the NRA… at least as much protection as they can give. The National Rifle Association has said that they are “disappointed” in the Bump Stock Ban, but they technically initiated the focus on this gimmicky accessory just days after one was involved in the Las Vegas Killings in October 2017… and shortly after meeting with President Trump in the Whitehouse to craft a response. The NRA’s influence in the loud social conservative segment of gun owners is important to the view of President Trump’s base, but not very important beyond it. The NRA has been under attack for many reasons from millions of gun owners and the vast majority of gun owners (over 90%) have simply chosen to not support the organization. The machinations of the NRA Leadership, their odd allegiance to President Trump despite his betrayal and the ever louder voices of leaders inside the gun community aligned against them both are important to the broad landscape of gun rights issues. This article is going to focus on the Bump Stock Ban, what you need to know about it and what our community needs to do in the next 90 Days before the ban actually takes effect. The Second American Organization maintains its position in opposition to any ban of an accessory, feature or firearm type.
Why Does the Bump Stock Ban matter? Aren’t they just silly toys?
Bump Stocks are pretty much gimmicks. I thought it was fun to bump fire AK type firearms back in the 1990’s… I don’t know many people who tried it that didn’t think it was neat-o…. for about 48 seconds. After that, it was just something that we had all “done one time”. As I’ve said often since the NRA signaled that they they would accept a Bump Stock Ban and the Trump Administration made it an agenda item: “There are many reasons to fight a bump stock ban… but, Bump Stocks themselves are not one of them!”
The underlying concern, in principle, is that this ban opens the door (with acceptance from the NRA and far too many gun owners) to the restriction of inanimate objects on the basis that they are somehow responsible for deaths. We must remember that the impetus for this ban is the killing spree that occurred in Las Vegas in October of 2017. Bump Stocks were used in those killings, yes. But, so were many other accessories. What about those other accessories? What about the types of firearms themselves? What about specific features of those firearms? The same exact “logic” that got the Trump Administration to ban bump stocks this week could have been applied to any item in that hotel room. We cannot afford to simply let this one go or look the other way.
Is it a “ban”?
There have been some in the gun community who have wanted to play a semantic game about whether or not “ban” is the correct word. The crux of this, meaningless, issue is whether a retro-active restriction that forces people to turn over or destroy property that used to be legal is a “ban”. I think it is… certainly for practical purposes and for the sake of all future discussion, the term is appropriate. For the very curious or very pedantic, the most common definition of the word is: to prohibit, forbid, or bar; interdict.
Is The Bump Stock Ban a violation of the 4th or 5th Amendments?
“A seizure of property, within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, occurs when there is some meaningful interference with an individual’s possessory interests in the property.” (see more here)
“The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution includes a provision known as the Takings Clause, which states that “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.” (see more here)
Many people have pointed out there are many issues related to citizens being forced to give up their property without compensation if the ban goes into effect. These issues are part of the grounds for the legal action that has been taken against the ban, which we’ll talk more about in a moment.
Does the Second Amendment protect an Individual’s Right to own Firearms Accessories?
We at 2AO see this question as non-sensical. Yes, a very shifty and crafty lawyer might be able to spend time on the argument of “keeping arms” being limited to only possessing the weapons themselves and not the various accouterments that are needed to use them. We believe that the inclusion of the concept of “bearing arms” in the Second Amendment clearly indicates that items which are required or support the use of the firearm itself are included under its protections. For more information on the Positions that 2AO Takes on various gun rights issues, visit gunrights.info.
How is a “bump stock” being re-defined as a “Machine Gun” ?
Before we get into how the Trump Administration is doing this, it is worth reading how an anti-gun organization, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, has described bump-stocks (as of 12/19/18, from HERE):
“BUMP STOCKS AND TRIGGER CRANKS
Additionally, the gun industry has marketed devices such as bump-fire (or bump stock) and trigger crank devices that attach to a firearm and are designed to accelerate the weapon’s rate of fire to rates approaching automatic machine gun fire. These devices skirt the limits of federal law because the federal definition of “machine gun” only applies to weapons that automatically fire multiple rounds with “a single function of the trigger.” Bump-fire devices replace the weapon’s standard shoulder stock and allow the weapon to smoothly slide (or “bump”) back and forth very rapidly between the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger. By harnessing the weapon’s recoil or kickback, the bump stock causes the trigger to be engaged many times faster than a human could otherwise fire. Trigger cranks attach to a firearm’s trigger guard and similarly enable a shooter to repeatedly pull the trigger in very rapid succession by simply rotating the crank. These devices are marketed as “simulating” automatic fire and are a significant danger to the public. In October 2017, a gunman in Las Vegas used multiple bump fire devices to convert semi-automatic rifles into weapons that fired nine shots per second. He used those weapons to carry out the deadliest mass shooting attack in modern history.”
Again, that is a leading anti-gun organization painting the worst picture they can in regard to bump stocks, but not reaching the level of calling them “Machine Guns”… yet, the BATFE is now taking the next step to actually define bump stocks themselves as “Machine Guns”! In 2010, the BATFE had this to say about the bump stocks:
“The stock has no automatically functioning mechanical parts or springs and performs no automatic mechanical function when installed. … Accordingly, we find that the ‘bump-stock’ is a firearm part and is not regulated as a firearm under Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.”
Nothing has changed about the stocks themselves in the last 8 years. This week, the order issued by the Department of Justice’s BATFE reads:
“The Department of Justice is amending the regulations of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to clarify that bump-stock-type devices-meaning “bump fire” stocks, slide-fire devices, and devices with certain similar characteristics-are “machine guns” as defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Gun Control Act of 1968 because such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger. Specifically, these devices convert an otherwise semiautomatic firearm into a machine gun by functioning as a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism that harnesses the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm in a manner that allows the trigger to reset and continue firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter.”
There is no real explanation for this re-definition other than politics. Nothing has changed, no new tests have revealed anything different about the stocks or how they work. Anyone who understands how semi-automatic guns work know that the finally clause of the above quote can’t be accurate. The stock could be said to automate the physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter… but, it does not alleviate the need for said trigger to be physically manipulated by the shooter’s finger. The gun still functions in a way that fires one round each time the trigger operates.
Isn’t this just a sophisticated maneuver by those who truly care about gun rights to get us something important like National Reciprocity?
No. Not only is there no evidence of such of convoluted thing going on, there isn’t even a mechanism for it inside of our government. In both practice and principle this notion is a non-starter. Even if there were someone or some organization on “the other side” in a position to make such an offer, entering into that compromise would undermine several important foundational principles of our fight to regain our infringed gun rights. The closest you might get to this question is the idea that the NRA Leadership met with President Trump and they all decided to offer up Bump Stocks as the “least important” compromise of their principles and campaign promises (respectively) they could find. This is a compromise that we do not feel was at all necessary, of course. WE are already infringed and there is no need for the gun community to give up anything in response to a killing spree.
What about the Law Suits that have been field to stop Trump’s Bump Stock Ban?
2AO believes that the best chance our community has of stopping the Bump Stock Ban from going into effect is the lawsuit filed buy Firearms Policy Coalition. I personally applaud Tim Harmsen (Military Arms Channel) for personally investing himself as a plaintiff in another lawsuit as well. The FPC Lawsuit is being handled by Civil Rights Attorney’s Joshua Prince and Adam Kraut. Adam Kraut should be well known to many in the firearms community for his fight to get onto the NRA Board of Directors over the past couple of years, despite the organizations overt resistance to having him there. He has been an outspoken critic of the current leadership at the NRA and it is fitting that he finds himself at the helm of a gun rights lawsuit against something that the NRA is essentially accepting, despite outrage from the gun community. FPC has been very vocal about their opposition to the Bump Stock Ban since it was first hinted at by the NRA and the Trump Administration. They have continually update their position on this topic over the past year and filed the suit immediately as the rule changed was announced. A full record of FPC Position Statements, Press Releases and Court Filings can be viewed HERE. You can also donate to support the lawsuit directly HERE.
What can you do to Stop the Bump Stock Ban?
While the legal battles are fought in the courts, you can do something… in fact, there are several things you can do:
1. Pressure the Trump Administration and the POTUS Himself to reverse position on the Bump Stock Ban
While this may seem a bit simplistic and sophomoric, we have seen how President Trump will respond to social media and.or groundswells of public opinion. One million Gun Owners tweeting “Reverse the Trump Bump Stock Ban!” would certainly get noticed. Many in the gun community have hoped that Donald Trump, Jr., a professed gun rights supporter who has received great adulation from the gun community, would be an ally since it has become obvious that his father isn’t as pro gun as many had hoped he had become. He can also be found on social media and reminded of the promises he made over the past few years.
2. Pressure the NRA Leadership
Defunding the NRA is the most powerful way you can influence the organization at this point. The NRA Board of Directors is largely powerless. That said, if you are already a Life Member and can vote, Do Vote. Vote for those whom Marion Hammer (DON’T vote for her…) has fear mongered as “enemies within” (people who want to Change the NRA Leadership and strategies) and exclusively for returning members who are overtly for change at the top and not afraid to speak up directly about the Bump Stock Ban and other miss-steps by the current leadership. Votes for the likes of Adam Kraut and Timothy Knight would be votes well cast. Beware the idea that “new blood” is always a good choice… I have been very disappointed in how quickly three friends who became board members last year made it obvious that they are not going to fight for change at the NRA. Remember, the fewer votes you cast, the more powerful your votes are. Believe it or not, the best way to influence the Board Members themselves may very well be to physically write them letters. Considering their demographics, it may come as no surprise to you that I have been told repeatedly that physically opening and holding a letter makes the message contained within more powerful by several BoD Members over the past few years.
If you cancel your annual membership for simply chose not to renew, let the NRA know why. Similarly, while I used to sponsor and participate generously in Friends of the NRA Banquets around the country, I stopped doing so a few years ago. I have let the local organizers and friends in various communities who would regularly sponsor them know why. I worked closely with the NRA for many years and I cannot over-state the case for your money being the most influential thing to the leadership. At this point, I believe that there are three paths forward for the NRA becoming a better organization: Coup, Scandal or the current leadership Doing the Right Thing and stepping aside. I don’t see the first option on the horizon and I certainly have given up hope on the last option. I fear the decimation that would occur if an organization shattering scandal were to take place and/or be revealed as the organization has been plagued with issues for the last many years. Defunding the NRA might force the leadership to step-aside as their housing allowances, bonuses and outrageous salaries dry up or simply cannot withstand the scrutiny of the public amidst cutbacks juxtaposed against the habitual squandering of money.
With enough pressure, the NRA might stop covering the Trump Administration on this topic and actually fight this ban… because even those who are generally for gun control are noticing that they aren’t and that hurts us all.
3. Reach out to your Legislators about the Bump Stock Ban
Letters to your Representatives in Congress know that you are not hoary with Trumps abuse of power can’t hurt. The actions taken by the administration to make hundreds of thousands of gun owners felons with the stroke of a pen should be questioned. I have heard many gun owners decry the abuse of Executive Orders in the past. The mechanism used to create this Bump Stock Ban should be questioned. Regardless of which party you attache yourself to or which party your elected officials ran under, they are in office to serve you and you need to let them know what matters to you. They were not involved in this action so there is little point in simply letting them know only that you oppose the ban, but they can question the method in which the action was taken.
You can use your social capital to spread the word for supporting the FPC Lawsuit and you can make a tax deductible donation to help fund their efforts. You can also help fund them with the purchase of this ironically funny sticker.
5. Educate others as a Grass Roots Advocate
Perhaps the most important thing that you can do is educate others and recruit them into this fight to take one or more of the actions above. There are many categories of people who need education in a variety of ways:
– Gun Owners who don’t understand why it is important to fight a ban on a relatively unimportant accessory.
-Gun Control Activists who don’t understand what a Bump Stock actually does.
-Gun Owners who suffer under the delusion that this ban is some type of sophisticated “deal” that will eventually lead to some great victory for gun owners such as the Repealing of the NFA or National Right to Carry.
-Americans in the middle ground on gun issues who might be motivated by the abuse of power or seizure of property issues that are related to the Bump Stock Ban.
The Bump Stock Ban is a serious issue that could have long lasting repercussions in regard to what types of gun restrictions are put into place in the future and how they are put into place. There is still time for our community to prevent it from going into effect. Let’s do that.
-Rob Pincus, Executive Vice President 2AO
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