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NRA Asks for Reevaluation of Bump Stocks

I’m not surprised by this. I do wonder why you’d invite ATF to reclassify rather than use it as a bargaining chip to get our two bills through Congress. I know a lot of people are going to freak the ever loving hell out about this, but there’s several truths, unpleasant truths to be sure, but truths nonetheless:

  • With this incident, continued grandfathering of machine guns is going to be at risk. I’ve been told by very experienced people who work with Congress that the current machine gun regime exists because for the most part it flies under the radar. There’s only been one incident where a legal machine gun was used in a crime, and that was committed by a police officer.
  • Machine guns are a hill you’re going to die on. The time to have that fight was in 1934, and the population was too busy trying to survive the depression. Rightly or wrongly, and I believe wrongly, machine guns have never been considered by most Americans to be in the scope of their Second Amendment rights. This probably has something to do with the fact that they were banned before there was any great awakening on the Second Amendment, or maybe Americans just didn’t care enough to fight until they started going after guns that weren’t machine guns. Either way, it’s a lost cause. You might not like hearing this, but it’s reality. Our best bet to preserve what machine guns are left is to let them continue to fly under the radar.
  • Semi-autos are put at risk because one of our powerful arguments is that they are not, in fact, easy to convert. We largely have overcome the assault weapons issue by relieving people’s confusion that assault weapons are machine guns. Why did this work? Because the vast majority of Americans are OK banning machine guns. I’ve been talking to numerous people who are not inherently hostile to guns who are asking me why the feds allowed a conversion that was so easy to do. You’re not going to argue back with “But it’s not a conversion. It’s only simulated full auto fire.” You’re splitting hairs, and people know what they heard and saw on those videos.
  • Bump fire stocks are a range toy. They aren’t particularly useful for target shooting, aren’t particularly reliable, and aren’t particularly useful for self-defense. If you like the citizen militia purpose of the 2nd Amendment, and I do, they aren’t particularly useful for that either. No current military would field them. I’m not going to agree to risk suffering real and substantial losses to defend them. Is banning them stupid and useless? Yes. But public policy is rarely decided on the basis of reason.
  • SHARE and National Reciprocity were probably going to pass the house, but both were likely going to fall short of 60 votes in the Senate. We know this because the last time the issue came up we were short. If attaching a reclassification of bump stocks gets us past 60 votes, I’ll take it. Those are real and substantial gains for the Second Amendment. I think it’s well worth the trade.

I know this is going to piss off a lot of people, but this is reality.

UPDATE: The more I think about this, the more I think this is a tactic to buy time. Time is our best friend here. Most likely scenario: ATF reviews its determination and says, which is perfectly true: “We can’t reclassify these things without legislation.” By that time, politicians are acting more reasonably, and the public has moved on. We get out of the immediate crisis and have more room to make a deal.

Now That There’s Talk of a Ban …

there isn’t a bump-fire stock to be found. There probably weren’t all that many out there before the prospect of a ban came up. How many will there be after? Tens of thousands? Hundreds of thousands?

And if Feinstein gets her way, as long as it’s illegal already, might as well put the spring in it. You won’t do more time for the spring, and it makes the device a lot easier use and more effective.

I’ll reiterate my prediction, because it’s what happened after Sandy Hook; they will be offered a deal; bump stock ban to get our two bills through. They will not take it. They won’t be able to help themselves. At the end of the day, they will get nothing, and then wonder why.

This Just Gets Weirder

Does the FBI think this isn’t just a lone whack job? Nothing would surprise me anymore. I hope they clarify all these statements soon, because the conspiracy nuts are going to have a field day with all this stuff if the FBI comes out and says “Yeah, it was just a sad, depressed man who wanted to go out in a blaze of infamy.”

DC Won’t Appeal Concealed Carry Ruling

They made that mistake before. I’m guessing they don’t want to risk a change on the court, which would mean that ruling would end up applying to the whole country. That’s the mistake they made with Heller. I’m also sure they figure they can make the requirements so onerous that as a practical effect no one qualifies for a permit to carry. It would probably be preferable for Congress to act to fix these issues, and remove DC’s ability to regulate firearms.

Why My Preference is Usually Doing Nothing

I’m not one of these “something must be done” types. I’m perfectly OK with “shit happens” and that you’ll often do more damage trying to prevent it than just accepting that. Diane Feinstein has a bill already, and its awful:

Except as provided in paragraph (2), on and after the date that is 180 days after the date of enactment of this subsection, it shall be unlawful for any person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a trigger crank, a bump-fire device, or any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun.

She’s not careful about how she drafts stuff because she doesn’t care. And neither Senator Feinstein nor her staff know anything about firearms.

What is a Trigger Crank? Can you define it? What is a bump-fire device? These things don’t have common meaning. If I get a lighter bolt carrier that goes into battery faster than a heavier one, is that “part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle?” What about if I have a buffer spring that’s a bit stiffer, and cycles the action slightly faster than another? Cycle time is the ultimate arbiter of how fast you can shoot a semi-auto. Note is says designed or functions, meaning if it does it, it’s illegal. Note that if you own it, even if you don’t have it installed, it’s illegal.

If Congress decided it did want to ban bump fire stocks, it has to meticulously define them, and not include language that will sweep in a lot of commonly possessed items that have nothing to do with bump firing, but do slightly affect the rate at which the action cycles. Any definition of “trigger crank” has to be careful not to sweep in historic gatling guns, or replicas thereof.

Nope. This bill sucks. She can go to hell. Banning trigger cranks is stupid anyway. You could 3D print one in an hour. It’s a dirt simple device.

The Media Darling

I can’t count how many article I’ve seen about Caleb Keeter (if you’re saying “Caleb who?,” join the club) in the media. I passed on most of them, since I’ve never heard of the guy, and I frankly don’t care what celebrities think. But this article from the Canada Free Press is worth reading:

Someone in Keeter’s position will be assigned absolute moral authority on the issue because of what he went through in Vegas. You still oppose gun control? Oh yeah? Go through a shooting rampage and then come back and tell me that!

The many people who went through the same rampage and did not have their minds changed will presumably not be assigned the same absolute moral authority, for reasons I suppose are obvious. But authority is not what makes an idea good. It’s the quality of the idea itself. So let’s examine Keeter’s full statement explaining his change of mind …

As I said, this one hit close to home, but it didn’t change our minds. The article makes the very good point that although the very careful planning this mass murderer did made return fire an unrealistic option, there are plenty of other public mass shootings where someone with immediate access to a gun could and has made a difference.

Learn Your NFA Terms

Seeing gun owners try to explain to other people the laws around machine guns is painful, especially when they get terminology wrong. Let us go over briefly some terms.

The Federal Firearms Licensee

There are a lot of different types of FFLs. Let us review:

Type 1 – Dealer in Firearms (but not destructive devices)
Type 2 – Pawnbroker
Type 3 – Collector of Curious and Relics. I lot of you have this one, and so do I.
Type 6 – Ammo manufacturer
Type 7 – Firearms manufacturer (but not destructive devices)
Type 8 – Importer of firearms (but not destructive devices)
Type 9 – Dealer in destructive devices
Type 10 – Manufacturer of destructive devices.
Type 11 – Importer of destructive devices.

The Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT)

You’ll often hear people refer to “Class 3 firearms” Ain’t no such thing as a class 3 firearm. Classes are Special Occupational Taxpayers. This is the license that allows an FFL to deal in NFA items.

Class 1 SOT – Importer of NFA firearms.
Class 2 SOT – Manufacturer and dealer of NFA firearms.
Class 3 SOT – Dealer of NFA firearms.

Title I and Title II

This refers to Title I and Title II of the Gun Control Act of 1968. This is how to categorize a firearm. Machine guns are Title II firearms. Rifles, shotguns and handguns are Title I firearms. Silencers are Title II items, but we’re trying to move them to Title I. The National Firearms Act regulates machine guns. It is part of the Internal Revenue Code. It was a 1986 Amendment to the Gun Control Act that banned any new machine guns from being registered to non-government entities, 18 U.S.C. 922(o). If you’re in possession of a Title I firearm illegally converted to a machine gun, you’ll be charged with violating 922(o), not violating the NFA. The government can’t prosecute you for failing to pay a tax it refuses to collect.

He’s Right, You Know

From Joe Huffman:

On the evening of 14 July 2016, a 19 tonne cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, France, resulting in the deaths of 86 people[2] and the injury of 458 others.

Planning matters a lot more than weapon choice. Nearly all mass killers plan their attack, but for some of them mental illness is limiting. The most dangerous killers are the ones who aren’t crazy, as it seems this guy was not.

Victims at the Four Seasons

Today’s Philadelphia Inquirer has an attention-grabbing headline: “For Bucks couple in Vegas, a horrifying view of the carnage.” With a headline like that, you click on it thinking that maybe they were in the midst of the crowd and saw things you can never forget.

And, let me tell you, I don’t think they will ever forget the horrifying view of an empty littered lot 35 stories below their posh Four Seasons room the morning after the shooting. The art deco-inspired wall papers and giant shiny silver mirrors to reflect the lights coming in from their floor-to-ceiling windows looking down on the Strip will remain forever in their minds against the backdrop of the litter below them.

The article says they heard some shots which the couple assumed to be fireworks with the concert they could just hear below them. But the article deliberately uses phrases that just acknowledge they saw the curtains blowing out of the neighboring hotel room the following morning and litter the next morning after there had been bodies previously. It doesn’t actually say they saw “carnage.”

The Inquirer does want us to know that the couple resting in their super comfortable Four Seasons bed has no intention of letting the gunman get in the way of their high end bridal conference business and that they will, in fact, be strong enough to stay the entire 4 additional nights they were planning to stay! #LasVegasStrong

When this couple reached out to the largest newspaper in their home region to tell their harrowing story, they made sure to pose for a photo in their posh hotel dressed in their most stylish clothes looking appropriately concerned for the little people below. Without it, I’m not sure we could have believed that they had survived such a tragic crime that happened to a group of completely unrelated people 1,600 feet down the Vegas Strip.

AP Says He Used a Bump Stock

According to the Associated Press, the gunman in Las Vegas used a bump stock. The legality of bump stocks is interesting, because they are legal or illegal depending. What a bump stock does is provide a channel for the receiver of the firearm to ride back and forth in. You place your finger in the trigger guard, then pull the receiver forward in the stock onto your finger which depresses the trigger and fires the rifle. The recoil forces the receiver back in the stock so that your finger releases the trigger and it resets. Pull forward again and you start the cycle over again. If you apply continued forward pressure, with a bit of finesse you can use the recoil of the gun to achieve a cyclic rate of fire very close to fully automatic fire.

ATF has concluded this is legal, because the law defines a machine gun as a firearm which fires two or more shots “with a single function of the trigger,” and in this case the shooter’s finger is pulling the trigger for each shot. You can do bump firing without a sliding stock, of course, but it’s more difficult to achieve.

However, if you put a spring in a bump stock, such that the spring pushes the receiver back into your finger, this is considered an illegal conversion and you’ll go to jail. The ATF considers the spring to be a machine gun. It’s a device pushing the trigger into the finger, not the shooter. So the shooter is only doing one function of the trigger, while the firearm is continuously firing because of the action of the spring. That is, legally, a machine gun.

I’ll be completely honest with you, if we could get SHARE and National Reciprocity through, I’d trade making bump stocks machine guns. But I don’t think we’ll have to do that. Our opponents will overreach, they will try to ban semi-automatics, our people will arise and push back, and they will end up with nothing in the end.

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