Trump’s Bump-Stocks Ban is a Bigger Danger for 2A than Most Realize

Opinion

Once President Trump is gone, and the next Obama/Clinton/Sanders, etc. holds the reins of the executive branch, there will be no legal barrier to the Attorney General “recognizing” the “danger” of all those “machine guns” in public hands, and criminalizing them with a scratch of a pen.
Once President Trump is gone, and the next Obama/Clinton/Sanders, etc. holds the reins of the executive branch, there will be no legal barrier to the Attorney General “recognizing” the “danger” of all those “machine guns” in public hands, and criminalizing them with a scratch of a pen.

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- The Second Amendment means what it says, and laws restricting access to, or possession of firearms, ammunition, firearms accessories, knives, swords, nunchaku, billy clubs, black-jacks, or other implements of war or personal defense, violate the fundamental right to arms and the Second Amendment. Any gun is every gun, and any law restricting anything that can be characterized as a personal arm is an assault on all types of arms.

That's the philosophy. Now let's talk about existing law and bump-stocks.

Under the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act, machine guns are tightly regulated, and no new machine guns can be added to the existing pool of legally transferable machine guns. The BATFE has promulgated – at the president's instructions, and with the agreement of the NRA – new regulations “clarifying” the terms “single function of the trigger” and “automatic” as they relate to the definition of “machine gun” under these laws. The effect of these “clarifications” is to support their declaration that “bump-stock-type devices” convert semi-automatic firearms into full-automatic firearms, thus making the devices themselves “machine guns” and subject to the restrictions outlined in the NFA and GCA.

The new determination also opens up a new avenue of attack on all semi-automatic firearms, as they all now meet the definition of a weapon that “can be readily restored to shoot” more than one shot with a single function of the trigger. That is a very big problem.

This new ruling is almost certainly going to survive the legal challenges being brought against it. I see it as highly improbable that those challenges will be successful at doing anything more than possibly delaying the enforcement of the new restrictions for a short time, and just maybe getting some compensation for owners who are forced to surrender or destroy the devices (though I think that is very unlikely).

Unfortunately, we the people have allowed the federal government to restrict certain classes of firearms for over 80 years, and in that time, substantial case law and precedent supporting those restrictions has been built up. The core issue of the constitutionality of these restrictions has never had a serious day in court, and this reinterpretation of the regulations is not going to provide that constitutionality hearing. If it did, we would almost certainly lose. Not because we're wrong and the restrictions on machine guns are right, but because there is not enough jurisprudence and scholarly opinion in place to effectively support our arguments, and most judges and politicians are terrified at the idea of machine guns being legal. They will bend over backward to make sure that doesn't happen. Even the late Justice Antonin Scalia made it a point to exclude machine guns from the Heller decision, on the basis of an “in common use” test. He applied a heavy dose of cognitive dissonance to argue that machine guns are not commonly owned in the U.S. while ignoring the fact that the only reason they are not more common is that they have been heavily restricted for over 80 years, and virtually banned since 1986.

Regardless of the devious and circuitous ways we got to where we are today, the fact is, the cards are heavily stacked against machine guns, and there is little that can be done against the phalanx of laws, regulations, and judicial prejudice lined up against them.

That's not to say we shouldn't try. I strongly support efforts to challenge this new BATFE regulation.

The first challenge case was filed by the Firearms Policy Coalition and is being handled by attorneys Josh Prince and my good friend Adam Kraut (who I am again endorsing in his run for a seat on the NRA Board of Directors in  2019). Erich Pratt at Gun Owners of America has also announced plans to file a suit against this BATFE reversal, and I applaud both efforts. I just don't think it's likely that either will be successful, because I believe BATFE's arguments for their decision will be very convincing to any judge who hears them.

The argument boils down to whether a firearm employing a bump-stock is “automatically” cycling the action and firing more than one shot with “a single function of the trigger.” Our side says no because each shot requires some manual action on the part of the shooter to actuate the next shot. The counter-argument from the new BATFE Firearms Technical Branch analysis contends that the act of maintaining steady forward pressure with the support hand – which is a critical requirement of all bump-fire-type devices, and is included in all of their operator instructions – constitutes a “single function.” The shooter's steady forward pressure on the fore-end replaces the trigger finger as the actuator of the firing cycle, and that steady forward pressure can readily be characterized as a “single function.” The shooter is not releasing and reapplying pressure as they would firing in normal semi-auto mode, but rather maintaining a steady pressure, which is momentarily overcome by each recoil pulse. The gun automatically repeats the firing cycle as long as the forward force is maintained, and there are only a handful of judges in the country who would not agree with that explanation and conclude that the described process meets the statutory and regulatory definitions of a machine gun.

We can argue among ourselves about these technical distinctions, but until everything goes to hell in a hand-basket, a group of judges reading current laws, regulations, and judicial precedents will be the ones making the final decision, and I see virtually no chance of them agreeing with our side.

While I'm not happy about how this has all gone down, and where it has ended up, I'm much more concerned about the broader implications of this new regulation going forward.

For decades, rights advocates have argued that conversion of a semi-automatic into a full-automatic, is a complicated and challenging process requiring specialized skills and equipment. Though there have been various workaround techniques demonstrated, such as the infamous, full-auto shoestring, and the time-honored, file-down-the-disconnector trick, there has never been an easy way to truly convert a semi-automatic into a machine gun. This new regulation changes that.

Whether you agree with the BATFE's new definitions or not, once this goes into effect, under the color of law, it will be a straightforward thing to technically “convert” any semi-auto into a “machine gun.” And that creates some severe issues because the law also defines “machine gun” to include “any weapon” that can be “readily restored to shoot” more than one shot with a single function of the trigger.

Interdynamic_KG-99 Pistol
Interdynamic_KG-99 Pistol

It is also long-established law, that “readily restored” actually means “easily converted” to fire full-auto, such as the KG-9 pistol, which was classified as a machine gun because it fired from an open bolt, and could be relatively easily converted to full-auto by filing off the secondary sear.

By legally defining “bump-stock-type devices” as “machine guns” that can convert semi-automatic guns into “machine guns,” then by these same definitions, any semi-automatic rifle becomes a “machine gun” because they can all be “readily restored” to be “machine guns.”

We're not likely to see an attack from this direction while Donald Trump is in the White House. But he won't be there forever, and once he's gone, and the next Obama/Clinton/Sanders, etc. holds the reins of the executive branch, there will be no legal barrier to the Attorney General “recognizing” the “danger” of all those “machine guns” in public hands, and criminalizing them with a scratch of a pen.

The Supreme Court has already allowed a lower court to get away with distorting Justice Scalia's dicta in the Heller case to mean that AR15s are not covered by the Second Amendment. Because they are “like M-16s,” and Scalia himself, made it clear in his dicta that he didn't want to include machine guns in the protections of the Second Amendment, so we can't expect much support from that quarter.

The bump-stock issue has been mishandled from the beginning, and now it has turned into a matter that can do little more than raise some money for a few groups and reduce unemployment for lawyers while blowing a gaping hole in our future defense of the Second Amendment.


Jeff Knox
Jeff Knox

About Jeff Knox:

Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit: www.FirearmsCoalition.org.

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OldmariineThe Revelatorwilly dJack MacPatriot Recent comment authors
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willy d
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willy d

@WillFlatt; Right, but lets keep on the common calling as Illegals, no sense in really confusing the already confused! @GregTorchia: Right and he was directed by the NRA to do something, thanks NRA one more time, open door for more left wing agenda! @Patriot; Right why do you think the UN wants their GUN BANDS, they want ours so we can’t fight back!!!! Like I keep saying send them to France and let them put up with their B/S!!!!!!!!! @OldMariine; You are right about taking the military head on, it has to be thought out on all levels as to… Read more »

The Revelator
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The Revelator

@Willy D Already behind the GOA cause. I’ve been pushing for the constitution to be enforced for about 15 years. I learned from my mistakes early on and the excuses I made when in High school. Part of the problem is we have some people who want their opinions to be justified, so they use or twist only certain parts to fit their needs. The irony is it is their votes, their opinions, that have got us here to this point. Now when they hear something that contradicts their opinions they try and fight to preserve them but they only… Read more »

Oldmariine
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Oldmariine

Olmarine >>> willy d THIS SHOULD BE INTERESTING READING… it may be long but covers Breaking Government Oath By the way ….There is another organization that is well ahead of the GOA in gathering support for the Constitution and the support there of. Join 85,687 American citizens who have signed onto the Oath Accountability Act for Constitutional Integrity http://oathact.us/ They feel (and this is a lot of lawyers ) at present, there is no legal penalty for Breach of Oath or legal obligation to abide by the plain language of our Constitution. But there is still Criminal law against Perjury… Read more »

The Revelator
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The Revelator

@GregTorchia I’ll die on my feet before I’ll live on my knees. For the infighting, here’s the issue. Donald Trump called for and got the ball rolling on this ban. He called for it publicly and then had the executive branch create and implement it. Both that act and the ban are unconstitutional making Donald Trump an Oath Breaker. The problem arises from the fact that some people here have their feelings hurt by the truth. Now the statement was made that the individuals who started this ban should be brought up on charges of perjuring their oath. I agree… Read more »

The Revelator
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The Revelator

@Oldmariine I notice you didn’t answer about why you attacked someone for putting up a petition to remove the ban? So lets look at your latest comments and the points you tried to make. 1. you lie like Hillary and believe them yourself. Funny, that appears to be what you have been doing this whole time. You attacked individuals for criticizing trump and calling to put pressure on him to remove the unconstitutional ban he ordered. 2. You still haven;t answered if you have done anything for you country? Yes I did, just not to you. Its in the comment… Read more »

Oldmariine
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Oldmariine

Oldmarine >>> D. Alighieri
That is really some good logical thinking, it really makes sense. If the military got into a war with the Citizenry, the weapons they have would cause maximum destruction killing many Americans Stupid to fight the military now days, because I believe they have weapons we don’t even know about. GOOD PRAGMATIC thinking. Semper Fi

Patriot
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Patriot

Likely if there is ever fighting you will not be fighting any US military, but rather UN military?

Patriot
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Patriot

The path is clear, we must increase GOA’s membership above and beyond the NRA’s!

Patriot
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Patriot

GOA fiiled their law suite today!

Go to their web site regarding more information!

Green Mtn. Boy
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Green Mtn. Boy

I quote from GOA’s announcement..

“Gun Owners of America has filed its lawsuit in the Western District of Michigan.”

“Not coincidentally, Michigan is located within the jurisdiction of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals — a circuit which is not only very pro-gun, but also has been more skeptical of illegal government regulatory actions than many other circuits in the country.”

The Revelator
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The Revelator

Good News Patriot. Saw it myself, and saw last week they were filing the paper work. VCDL has stated they would Join them too, and I love that the guys behind the Military Arms Chanel are tied in with it.

GregTorchia
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GregTorchia

Hope you guys can stop the infighting we need everybody on the same page after all our total goal is freedom and justice and the American way so to speak 1776 we need everybody to come together this is literally our last chance the door is going to close soon and it won’t be pretty I don’t care about myself that much But my childrenAnd their freedom are worth dying for, any day

William Flatt
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William Flatt

It’s not infighting when this bump stock ban was NRA’s idea and pushed Trump into asking BATF to do a new reg. As usual, the NRA stabs gun owners in the back, effectively pissing down our backside and telling us it’s rain.

The fudds are welcome to stay with the NRA, but serious gun owners who value their rights need to join GOA and also support GOF, and other gun lobbys. NRA is for sh!t.

GregTorchia
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GregTorchia

Yeah it’s true ,,I’m not happy about what our president did ,,but I think he’s being misguided on purpose like somebody said “I don’t think he knows a bump stock from a speedbump “that being said “shall not be infringed “means “shall not be infringed “and I get it and I am with that only thing is if we can give up something stupid like a bump stock and get the wall built to me it would be worth the trade off to some maybe not and I understand What “shall not be infringed “means but I also understand what… Read more »

The Revelator
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The Revelator

@GregTorchia My sympathies for you being in florida. Its a shame that 2 or 3 counties get to wreak havoc on the rest of your state. Florida used to be one of the freest in the nation until shortly into the 2000’s. The idea about giving up bumpstocks as a trade for something else however…. What you need to remember is that the people calling for the ban don’t work that way. They take what they can now because they know once it is in place it is close to impossible to remove. Then they come back for another slice… Read more »

The Revelator
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The Revelator

@Firewagon

Feel free to unplug then, or join in. No one is stopping you from doing either.

Firewagon
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Firewagon

As the CB’ers advised when a couple, or few, were hogging the channel wud say:”Take it to another channel!” Don’t impose your nonsense into our email boxes, either IN or SPAM. Give each of those you are contending with ‘your email’ or other “personal “ contact info and go at it in PRIVATE. The chances ANY of you will change even one mind is less than that of being struck by lightning!

tomcat
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tomcat

@ Firewagon You must be the new conversation monitor on this site. I’m not sure who promoted and made you the voice we should all listen to. Afterall, many of us have been here for several years and you are a newby coming in and running your mouth. If you don’t like what you read then it is a simple matter to just delete all of it unread, or do you not know how. You are wasting your time trying to tell the folks on this site to shut up. Should I suspect “troll”.

The Revelator
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The Revelator

@Firewagon Well then as long as you are Rachet Jaw’in, why don’t you go pay the water bill. Quite honestly, you should have a little button in your email to “Unsubscribe” if it is that much of a burden for you. Tell you what… Why don’t you publicly post your email so that when you screw up hundreds of people can see it and start a campaign of writing emails to you non stop? Do you think Oldmariine would give up a personal email for that? Do you think I trust him with mine? I’ve met one person I trust… Read more »

The Revelator
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The Revelator

@Oldmariine On December 22nd you wrote this “I would rather have the Bump Stock ( stupid attachment ) melt down into a pile of Sh1t than loose the 2nd” Also on December 22nd Will Flatt posted a petition to Reverse the Bumpstock Ban. You attacked him as saying this. “Another failed American that really suffers from a lack of reality. Trump is fighting the fight for you in swampland and you question his methods sounds more than a little childish.” Those are your words, and they are still on this page. You have routinely attacked any individual who questions or… Read more »

Patriot
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Patriot

Will the two children that are using this site for a personal fude please grow up and continue, if you must, by using a more private means to carry on!
We The People Thank You!

The Revelator
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The Revelator

@Patriot You are more than welcome to move your email responses into the junk bin so they don’t bother you there. Further I extend my apologies to you for this inconvenience. This will not end as long as Oldmariine keeps posting his childish temper tantrum. I plan on calmly continuing to reply to him for as long as he wishes to keep this up. He messed up and attacked others for criticizing an attack on the constitution made by the President. If you want this to end, its him you need to convince. Have a nice day and a happy… Read more »

Firewagon
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Firewagon

Unfortunately for the ‘readers’ of this blog, the ‘book writers’ will not give those they are “corresponding with” their email address, and/or telephone numbers, so they can continue their disagreements “privately!” Meanwhile those who ‘mistakenly’ opted to be notified of followup comments by email, have either their inboxes, or spam folders, overloaded with the p***in’ contest.

O
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O

Oldmarine >>> Patriot I agree but I find the comments refreshing until they get off the subject and start attacking. This was supposed to be about BUMP STOCKS that I consider a POS. The ban is a crime against the Constitution but I also see that the Ban was started by some Oath BREAKING politician. My outlook is go after the criminal act of that person by charging them with” Perjury Under Oath.” That drags along about 4 other Federal crimes with it. I believe that is the only way to stop all the gun grabbers and those who can’t… Read more »

Tionico
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Tionico

@Old Marine… I believe you have the right of it. Sending the publically funded criminals to the hoosegow in large numbers is really the only cure. Trouble is, as in the old story, WHO will bell the cat? Remember back when a well-known and well connected Senator from Massachussetts carelessly drove his car off the road and into a canal, drowing his passenger? He took off and walked away, leaving her there to drown. WHAT were his personal consequences? Not much… no prosecutor or grand jury would write a bill to charge. He laid low for a while, then was… Read more »

Oldmariine
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Oldmariine

Old marine >>> Tionico
Real interesting is the California Codes covering Oaths of office
go to :
http://www.sccoclerk.com/Portals/15/Users/125/25/125/PDF%27s/oathsfaq.pdf
For very interesting reading
Semper Fi