U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- If Las Vegas were taking bets on which city would be the first in the nation to ban bump stocks the liberal havens of Portland, Chicago, or some town in the North East would come to mind. Southern cities would not be on the list of favorites, but that is precisely the action that might happen today in Columbia, South Carolina.
The Columbia City Council in the Capital of South Carolina is set to vote to make bump stocks illegal to possess within the city limits. Mayor Steve Benjamin, who claims to support the Second Amendment Of The U.S Consitution, told Reuters “One of the common refrains that you hear whether it was in Texas or Vegas or Sandy Hook is that a good guy with a gun could have stopped the carnage,” he said over the phone. “It’s time for the good guys with guns to begin to pass some really good policy.”
Benjamin in the past has made the dubious claim that bump stocks turn semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic weapons. It seems like the City Council is also basing its decision on this wrong assumption. Of the six city council members, four have stated their support for the ordinance during its first reading.
South Carolina has a state law that prohibits cities from enacting ordinances that regulate guns, ammunition, and gun parts. This ordinance on the surface seems to violate this state law, but according to Benjamin, it does not run afoul of the law.
Benjamin explained that he does not consider bump stocks to be gun parts. Moreover, the Mayor does not believe any trigger enhancing device to be a gun part. The Mayor's definition would include any part that could be used to speed up the rate of fire of a firearm. This description would also consist of things like binary triggers. The mayor says these gun parts are actually “gun attachments.”
All these “gun attachments” would be banned under the new city ordinance. This changing of the definition of gun parts might fall on shaky legal ground for the city if challenged in court. The mayor states that he is a gun owner and The City Council supports the Second Amendment right to bear arms. He also says that he has the support of local law enforcement on the issue of the banning of bump stocks and similar devices.
There are already some states that ban bump stocks including California and New York. Several other states could potentially bar bump stocks under their “assault weapons” ban. These include the very left-leaning city of Washington, DC, and Maryland.
Earlier this month the ATF and the Department Of Justice decided to review whether bump stocks make a semi-automatic rifle a machine gun. Jeff Sessions supports the review and seems to lean towards reclassifying bump stocks. He said in a statement, “The regulatory clarification we begin today will help us to continue to protect the American people by carrying out the laws duly enacted by our representatives in Congress.”
The technology branch of the ATF has told Congress on multiple occasions that bump stocks do not fall under the National Firearms Act of 1934. Like Columbia, South Carolina the ATF could always change the definition of a word to fit their narrative and ban a device that has only been used by a single madman in a single crime.
In the end, this issue comes down to emotion. Analytically there is no reason that bump stocks should be banned. Also factually they are a gun part, so state law prevents Columbia passing the ordinance. It will be interesting to see how the ordinance which appears to be on its way to passing holds up in a court of law.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on the history of the patriot movement and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss or at www.crumpy.com.