Government FOIA Flouting Responsible for One Bump Stock ‘Conspiracy Theory’

Same as the old boss? AG Barr could order this cleared up in a matter of seconds – if he wanted to. (The United States Department of Justice/Facebook)

U.S.A. – -( “We have conducted a search for ‘any records documenting the use of a bump fire-type stock used during the commission of any crime to date,’ and found no responsive records,” Department of Justice lawyer and Disclosure Division Deputy Director Peter J. Chisolm told attorney Stephen Stamboulieh May 1. He was responding to a Freedom of Information Act request on behalf of firearms designer, frequent expert witness, and president of Historic Arms, LLC, Len Savage. “This is not a denial of information, rather it is to inform you that no records were found based on a search of our Criminal Enforcement System of Records.”

It’s tempting to say the DOJ can’t find records of such devices being used in crimes, and that is unproven at this point, but Chisolm is being cute here rather than responsive. Note his selective use of quotation marks and then look at Stamboulieh’s FOIA request. Chisolm is parroting back word in quotes, meaning, of course, a system search for that exact phrase will come up empty. That’s a deliberate in-your-face and it remains to be seen if a federal judge will be amused.

Similarly, FBI being asked the same question resulted in a response that essentially said they don’t have that information and wouldn’t have to tell anyone if they did. It’s a further demonstration of a contemptuous and arrogant attitude we have been subjected to before, with government lawyers disparaging efforts seeking information to which Americans are entitled as “a tangled web of connections between a small cadre of firearms activists and their efforts to recover fees through largely unsuccessful FOIA litigation.”

It’s fair to ask how we got to the point where this is even a question: Doesn’t everyone “know” based on media reports that bump stocks were used in the LasVegas killings? It would seem there is no question, at least within “official” media.

So why question it?

Probably because in response to another FOIA Stamboulieh was involved in, ATF included a Powerpoint presentation with a startling admission:

“There are no external visual indicators (i.e. automatic sear pin hole) that the weapons have been converted into machineguns,” the presentation declared. “However, on-scene ATF personnel were not allowed [emphasis in orginal] to physically examine the interior of the weapons for machinegun fire-control components or known  machinegun conversion devices such as Drop-In-Auto Sears, Lightning Links, etc.”

But that says “on-scene” some have pointed out. What about afterward?

That, among other things, is what the government is being coy about. To date, there has been no report that a technical examination by ATF has ever taken place. Why?

And who has authority to tell ATF it’s not allowed to examine firearms? What would you find if you pulled that thread, and why is no one who can mandate answers doing it?

Does it matter? Don’t we know several of the firearms recovered were found with bump stocks attached? What is it I’m trying to imply here?

I’m not trying to imply anything. I’m merely repeating the government’s words. If anyone infers more to it, that could quickly be cleared up if DOJ wanted to give some straight answers and not play games with FOIAs.  Especially since they’ve given us more reasons to scratch our heads.

This ATF FOIA production includes several problematic admissions  in addition to ATF not being “allowed” to examine recovered weapons:

Pg. 34:

Pg. 36:

Pg. 49:

“ATF did not disclose that they had not examined the firearms prior to promulgating the rule,” Savage has noted. “And now that the comment period is closed … that information can not be used in a court challenge because it was not submitted prior to the closing of comments.

“DOJ is manipulating the Administrative Procedures Act to make sure that information will NOT be used to shoot down the rule,” Savage concludes. “Does ATF prosecute its firearms cases like it promulgates rules, without ever looking at the evidence? ATF is currently attempting to criminalize an industry and a large swath of the population and NEVER looked at any evidence? They claim they were ‘not allowed'? By whom?”

For now, it looks like some in the judiciary are buying into the legal contortions.

U.S. District Court Judge Dabney L. Friedrich, nominated to the court by President Donald Trump, ruled against motions for a preliminary injunction to find for the administration in the cases of Guedes, et al., v. ATF and Codrea, et al. v. William P. Barr. Of specific relevance, without citing evidence she states bump stocks were “used” and further asserted:

“The Las Vegas attack served as the impetus for ATF’s decision to reconsider its legal interpretation of ‘machinegun,’ but it did not provide a factual basis for the rule.”

In other words, whether the excuse for banning bump stock-type devices was true or not, what happened in Vegas was irrelevant? Yet she insists ATF had “good cause” for the rule?

If the level of scrutiny ever enters into the picture, it would help to know if there is a compelling government interest and the ban is narrowly tailored to achieve that result, or if a lesser standard applies. Like a scapegoat is needed…

As it stands now, much of the noise – and ugly noise at that – has been leveled not at the government, but at those raising questions about its conduct and its lack of candor.  There is a certain class of bloviating forum-dweller that exists to be anonymously obnoxious, making fair the question “Why are some gun owners defending government stonewalling and misrepresenting those questioning it as conspiracy theorists?”

Who wouldn’t want to know the truth about something that’s been used as “justification” to subvert property rights and choices, and done so in a way that lends itself to further infringements against gun owners? Especially if/when Democrats retake the White House and argue “Trump did it” when they order new and expanded bans?

As Stamboulieh has tried his best to make clear:

“Just for the record, I have never said that the rifles used weren't equipped with bump stocks and not machineguns. I'm simply saying that there IS proof one way or the other, and we should have it. It is really a simple request and the way they are going about fighting it and ignoring it is simply bizarre.”

No doubt there are plenty of conspiracy theories about the Las Vegas murders but any wild speculations arising out of this are of the government’s making.

About David Codrea:David Codrea

David Codrea is the winner of multiple journalist awards for investigating/defending the RKBA and a long-time gun owner rights advocate who defiantly challenges the folly of citizen disarmament. He blogs at “The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance,” is a regularly featured contributor to Firearms News, and posts on Twitter: @dcodrea and Facebook.

  • 35 thoughts on “Government FOIA Flouting Responsible for One Bump Stock ‘Conspiracy Theory’

    1. Civil war is brewing. This is exactly how it starts. Oppress a particular segment of the population with unfair regulations and and criminalize them for doing something or owning something completely within the laws of the Constitution. If those within the “government” refuse to follow the Constitution we have no obligation to obey their (by Constitutional definition) illegal “laws”. The Constitution is the supreme law of our nation. Any “laws” not ratified as CONSTITUTIONAL amendments are NOT legal or binding on American citizens. The “government” is now by Constitutional definition, a criminal organization and NOT to be obeyed.

      1. @Mark H, No group has the logistics, secure comms, or even the numbers of people organized for civil war.
        Statutes are presumed Constitutional until found Unconstitutional. What is this ratifying laws into Constitutional Amendments that you write of? As far as refusing to obey, I understand your desire to be the test case.

    2. Excellent article, Mr Codrea. The point about the quoted phrase from the FOIA request, that searching for that exact wording may have been a deliberate decision with the goal of getting an empty result, has been discussed among some of us. I wouldn’t put it past the ABC agency to do that. But it leaves the question of why would they NOT want to produce evidence of criminal use of bump stocks if they actually had it? That would only strengthen their position and, other than just trying to keep the public ignorant, I see nothing for the agency to gain by playing this game. Whether they are gaming the system or not with that search dynamic, I think it is obvious that there is no crime on record involving a bump stock, with the potential exception of Las Vegas. But we can’t even see proof of that. Maybe they think the less we know the less we can challenge them. Maybe it’s a misdirection thing. In the end, the pending litigation will be the best hope for eventually putting the runaway agency regulators back in line, along with cases to overturn or limit the Auer and Chevron precedents.

      One thing about the LV guns being in possession of the FBI, if that’s true. That pretty much tells us that they will have absolute control over the evidence, and that no outside, third party will ever be able to examine them. This is reminiscent of the firearms evidence from the 1993 Waco tragedy. It was the FBI Crime Lab that insisted that many guns were converted to full auto, while never offering any such evidence. No charges were ever filed relating to illegal machine guns, as then evidence would have to have been produced and scientific examination by the opposing counsel would have been required. There is only one likely reason for that; there were almost certainly no converted machine guns. At the least, it has been thoroughly documented that the ATF raid involved semi auto fire from both sides, as two audio sources have proven, both of which recorded virtually the whole battle. Like the FBI did in the Waco case, it is likely that FBI will refuse to produce any firearms evidence where they don’t have full control of the interpretation, and no third party will ever be allowed to examine it.

    3. I read that those guns with bumpstocks were mounted on tripods and that makes no sense. You have to actually hold the gun for the bumpstock to work. They didn’t think this through before executing it. Another way to say it is that the government screwed up, again.

      1. Bipods. Saw them in the crime scene photos that they allowed the public to see. Just two guns with bumpfire stocks, both with bipods, which does defeat the stock from working right.

        1. Perhaps you should take a second look and reassess.

      2. The very first recording I heard I said at the time it sounded like a belt fed firearm . I heard it maybe twice then it disappeared . Second question has anyone seen photos of brass lying around ,why not

    4. Absolutely excellent article. thank you Mr. Codrea. Not one shard of evidence has been shown linking the rifles at the scene to even one projectile tied to a fatality. Not one! Perfect false flag event.

    5. Nobody will state if they had been converted to fully semi automatics or if the ballistics showed those weapons were even used. Nobody has talked to the Australian that claims he was shooting the crowd from the other room, which according to the lock/unlock records was locked from the other side of where paddock was found. The picture showing paddy and the woman is definitely photo shopped, several items were blended in. Paddy was most likely dead before the first shot into the crowd happened. The guy who got shot and then ran for his life out of the country is another unproven entity as he prolly saw those that actually shot the crowd when they were going upstairs to their bolt rooms. The vegas pd and dizzyknee had so many different official details and final stories that contradict their own story i lost count after 3 definitely final official stories.

      This is a false flag op if i have ever seen one.

      1. Wasn’t there a report of a photo at the scene that showed the shooters’ body (after he’d killed himself) on the floor with a quantity of spent .223 brass on top of it?

    6. was it just me or did I miss the trial/conviction of anyone/anything related to the vegas false flag event , at this point any statement claiming “since the bumpstock was there it must have been used?” really? and how did you reach that conclusion mr Sherlock?

      1. @Core, Yes, the Judicial part of the swamp is Donald J. Trump’s part to drain. We could accidentally run over every Constitution hating judge in the country (because we are motorists and only human) but that would do no good, if the POTUS keeps appointing more libtard judges.

    7. The aspect of this ATF reversal that is remarkable to me is that a sliding stock itself, not even installed on a firearm, is now classified as a “machine gun”. This applies just to the piece of plastic or composite material alone. A person could have a bump stock in his vehicle, without a single firearm or round of ammunition, and be found guilty of a felony. Because he had a piece of plastic in his car that would not even make a good bludgeoning device, it would forever block his future purchase and lawful ownership of even a .22 single shot rifle within the United States. By being “guilty” of plastic “machine gun” ownership alone, without a single instance of harm to another human being, he is a forever felon. And there’s no way to reverse it. The Trump judges are going to side with Trump, and the Obama judges are overwhelmingly anti-gun of any kind and would be gleeful to extend this even further to ownership of an empty magazine, or an adjustable stock not even mounted on a weapon. This opens the door to making components illegal, not just fireable weapons. This is not good policy. It opens the door to progressive infringement. America as a nation would not exist if ordinary un-enlisted citizens had not held “weapons of war”. We are an exceptional nation with an exception idea of freedom. God bless our law-abiding citizens.

      1. Right.. if that hunk o cheap poly plastic is a “machine gun”, do they come in different calibres? How big is the mgazine that is part of that “machine gun”?

        The insane part is that a one armed shooter CAN effectivel fire a fully automatic machine gun. A one armed man CANNOT fire an AR with a bump stock attached, or even the stock all by itself.

        There are some government dweebs that need to be looking at the OTHER side of the funny “walls” in some local CrowBar Hotel.

        1. That’s exactly right, Tionico. Bump firing is a technique. It can be accomplished without a bump stock. Few people want to invest the considerable time to perfect that technique, so a Slide Fire device accelerates the process.

      2. The real story here is the absolute violation of Due Process by those sworn to uphold same. A product to sell, buy, possess and use for decades, determined legal commerce by a government agency (ATF) on more than one occasion (in writing), is now deemed retroactively illegal commerce by that very same agency, yes, decades later! No grandfather clause, no just compensation for the taking of or destruction of, the very property once obtained through legal commerce.

        The precedent now set, by an alphabet agency, unelected public servants, when Chevy vehicles are used a couple times to mow down citizens, engagement in legal commerce purchasing a Chevy, will be deemed illegal commerce by an alphabet agency, and ALL the citizens who purchased such a lethal weapon will be compelled to send their vehicles to a scrap yard without compensation or be deemed felons, suffering criminal penalties.

        Those who openly refuse and so state on Social media will moreover suffer under Extreme Risk Protection Orders (Red Flag Laws) by having a warrant issued to seize all their vehicles, no matter what make, costing the good citizen countless of thousands in loss of property as legal expenses again without due process.

        Of course that is absurd for car owners – no one in their right mind would believe such a scenario could happen to them merely by engaging in once declared legal commerce.

        However gun owners know it is not absurd as it is happening to them now with their once deemed legal now deemed illegal purchased product!

      3. No different than a suppressor/silencer being considered a “machinegun”. It is pure insanity that an inanimate object that is nothing but a part or accessory can be considered more dangerous than the weapon it is installed on.

        1. ‎Sausages and Politics

          Helping my Dad to butcher hogs and make sausage was hard and nasty work, but the results were very enjoyable, and kept our financially challenged, very frugal, family well fed.

          The political process is nasty, byzantine, treacherous, and repulsive; … but unavoidable. 
          There are times when victory is essential … at any cost.
          Some defeats can be permanent and irrecoverably disastrous; even fatal to a nation.

          * * * * *

          Faced with a tsunami of anti-gun political pressure, in the aftermath of several high-profile mass murders, some very smart people recognized that if they did not find a miracle to deflect and short circuit the process, really bad legislation was inevitable.

          They did a brilliant kabuki decoy dance to “administratively ban” bump stocks thus avoiding an avalanche of dangerous legislative bans on much more important things (Clinton “assault rifles”, etc). 

          They understood that, eventually, the courts would overturn this over reach of administrative action, especially because it was done by Trump, the most hated enemy of the deep state swamp.

          On the other hand, courts are extremely reluctant to overturn legislative action because laws passed by Congress are presumed to be the will of the people … and Constitutional.

          (In order to uphold “the will of the people” through Congressional Legislation manifested in “the Unaffordable Health Care Act”, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts tied himself up in knots that sailors could not recognize, much less duplicate.)

          We would never have been able to get “the courts” to overturn the Clinton “assault rifle” bans.  Thank God, some very smart people had slipped a poison pill into that legislation. 
          It contained a “sunset clause” that would allow the several bans to expire, unless renewed.

          Miraculously, Newt Gingrich had led the Republicants to take control of Congress, for the first time in many decades, and they discovered a long forgotten spine hidden away in a broom closet … and were able to block an extension which the Demokrats had assumed that they would easily be able to continue forever.

          * * * * *

          Please do not destroy our champions and undermine their accomplishments.

          Combat veterans understand “The Fog of War”.
          The battlefield is chaotic, confusing, moving at blinding hyperspeed …  unforgivably and permanently fatal.

          Please do continue to bitch, moan, and whine … loudly and constantly. 
          We do not want the gun grabbers to realize that being thrown into the briarpatch, our natural hunting ground, would not destroy us.
          We do not want the gun grabbers to realize that they got caught in a tar baby.

    8. No known laws were broken. Ok so now what?
      It doesn’t really change anything.
      I don’t think we are the ones that need convincing. This was done solely by the people and organizations that were supposed to stop such activity being the NRA and POTUS.
      We will never know the truth about Vegas.

        1. We know nothing more about the Las Vegas shooting than we did 3 days after it occurred, not going to say something is fishy, but it smells like the beach at red tide!

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