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.