Last October, in the aftermath of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, we published an article in which I suggested that the goal of the anti-gun lobby is much deeper than banning silencers or bump stocks. Prior to the Vegas tragedy, bump stocks were basically an unknown device. I explained:
“The hot button topic at the moment is an add-on device known as a ‘bump stock’ or ‘bump fire stock’. Quite simply, it’s a stock molded to attach to the lower end of a semi-automatic rifle where it harnesses the recoil from the gun. This enables the shooter to fire rounds at a more rapid rate– a simulation of sorts of what a fully automatic would shoot like.
“Bump stocks are typically thought of as a novelty item for gun enthusiasts. Accuracy is a major issue while using them. Not to mention the fact that with the price of ammunition, it’s not cheap to use one. But with the Vegas shooter allegedly having them on twelve of his guns, the previously unknown add-on has been thrust to the front and center of the gun control debate.”
I also explained:
“Not only are there Republican’s expressing an openness to discussing the issue, but a bill has already been drafted by a Republican to propose banning them altogether. And President Trump said that it is something they will be discussing soon.
“Will the legislation pass? Given the current political climate, I believe that it will. And with so many Republicans seemingly ready to ‘compromise’, I can’t help but wonder if they’ve forgotten who they’re going to be compromising with?
Having said all of this, it came as no surprise yesterday when it was reported that President Trump ordered his Attorney General to draft regulations banning “all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns”. In a nutshell, the order is to ban bump stocks. Trump’s caving to the pressure of anti-gunners, to do something on the gun control front, came less than a week after a school shooting in Florida— though that tragedy didn’t involve a bump stock.
Trump’s desire to use regulatory power has many skeptics calling for legislative action instead. During the Obama administration – and as recently as December under the current administration – the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, & Firearms (ATF) expressed their belief that they lack the authority to prohibit bump stocks.
The ATF’s reasoning is fairly simple. Federal law defines a 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”. Under this definition, bump stocks don’t fit.
The timing of the President’s directive makes one wonder if he’s just throwing a bone to the anti-gun establishment or if he’s set to go even further down the rabbit hole of gun control. Unfortunately, reports are that Trump has indicated to friends and advisers that he may be willing to go even further. One report says he’s entertaining the idea of TV personality Geraldo Rivera to raise the age from 18 to 21 for purchasing semi-automatic guns.
I want to be very clear. I stand where I did back in October:
“Anybody that believes outlawing bump stocks will stop mass shootings is either ignorant or in denial. The NRA and some Republicans alike are falling into a trap. What they are calling compromise – in the name of ‘compassion’ and ‘security’ – is actually nothing less than a knee jerk reaction to a horrific and unusual event. In actuality they are giving up ground they need not give. They are agreeing with the enemy on a flawed idea that we’ve fought for years– that gun control works.
“And once they give this ground, where does it go from there? If they buy the argument that bump stocks are not ‘needed’, what about those pesky ‘assault rifles’ and high capacity magazines? Or maybe semi-automatic guns altogether? I mean, if they’re going to admit that bump stocks are deserving of a ban because they’re not needed, who needs semi-automatics? Especially with high capacity magazines.
“Hunting purposes? No way. That argument doesn’t even fly. You can kill plenty of big game, waterfowl, and upland birds without a semi-automatic.
“Does it stop there? What about bolt actions? My goodness– a high-powered bolt action rifle from the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay could result in a tremendous amount of casualties.
“Multiple guns? Who ‘needs’ 47 guns? So, let’s place some limits on not only the number of guns you can buy in a year, but the number that you can own overall. Right?
“Before we know it, we’re down to single shots. And even they could wreak havoc on a crowd of 22,000 plus.
“And we haven’t even mentioned hand-guns. Can’t you see where this is going?
“Then, of course, there’s the fact that if someone really wants to they can make their own bump stock. The high tech method to accomplish such a task? 3-D printing. And just yesterday I saw pictures on the internet of one made without 3-D printing– something that looked like it was made in a garage somewhere. Remember, even if they’re outlawed, criminals don’t care about laws– that’s why they maim and kill the innocent.”
As you can imagine, I’m deeply disappointed in President Trump. He caved– and it may not be the last time that he does. That’s a troubling prospect– even if it’s not a surprising one. As I mentioned before, this issue goes far deeper than bump stocks– which was also pointed out in a statement from the Gun Owners of America yesterday.
Events like those in Las Vegas and at Parkland High School were horrific. But President Trump needs to realize that violating his Oath of Office by caving to the anti-gun establishment isn’t going to prevent such atrocities from occurring. Nor will perpetuating the existence of gun-free zones solve the problem either.
Do we need an honest and open discussion about these types of shootings? Yes. But violating the 2nd Amendment shouldn’t be part of it.