But My Bump Stock!

Point Counterpoint

I had a feeling someone was going to throw my position on bump stocks back at me for this quote in yesterday’s news links:

Believe me, these gun owners do exist. There’s a lot of people who will heartily embrace “Well, if it won’t affect me, I’ll support it.” That goes double if they think they can appease the opposition with someone else’s rights. These are fundamentally selfish people who don’t stand for anything.

Sure enough, it didn’t take long. I suppose I asked for that, but I do believe there’s a distinction. I believe in our current political situation, the ATF classification is the path of least damage to the overall gun rights movement. Recall that the NRA’s demand ATF reevaluate bump stocks came after Vegas, with Congress moving to pass a bump stock bill that would legally jeopardize a whole host of normal, fairly common activity with semi-autos in addition to some of the existing grandfathered machine gun stock. We’ve also now gotten screwed on that issue in a number of states, including now Florida, our nation’s 3rd most populous and that generally speaking has been gun friendly.

Do you want to win on machine guns? I’d like to. But we need to achieve a tremendous cultural shift on the issue if that can ever be achieved. To do that, we need that grandfathered stock. If we lose that, it will be irrecoverably lost. Forever. No coming back. There would be no way to build the familiarity needed to demystify them.

You can bitch and moan all you want about “I can’t believe the GOP would do this to us.” No politician is going to stick up for machine guns in the current climate, and whether we like it or not, that’s how the public perceives bump stocks or anything that fires like a machine gun. That shit is all better off flying under the radar.

I’m very sorry our great-grandparents abandoned Machine Gun Hill in the 1930s. None of us alive today were there. A lot of people seem to want to die on Bump Stock Hill. It’s not that I don’t want to fight, it’s that I’m not going to fight for something I can’t win or can’t defend successfully. I’m going to strengthen my lines against attacks on my flanks and leave that indefensible position to those foolish enough to fight for it.

The problem with the Fudd is that he’d rather trade all the other hills as long as the one he’s living on isn’t being actively attacked. His is a concession to avoid having to fight at all.

52 thoughts on “But My Bump Stock!”

  1. My take is, bump stocks shouldn’t be banned. It is wrong to jail people over having them.

    But in terms of the political winds, it would be best to tack into the wind, and trade bump stocks for something that moves gun rights forward overall, such as getting HPA.

    If we don’t do that, we just lose ground, and as I’ve voiced before here, my biggest frustration is that’s what’s happening. Our supposedly great deal maker in the white house is letting us down here.

    1. I don’t want to see them banned either, but that’s what even some very otherwise pro-gun politicians are voting for. The reason is we have a long way to go on machine guns.

  2. I hate to give an inch because next time we’ll be expected to give a foot, BUT if trading bump stocks for National Reciprocity is possible, I say do it.

    1. Is that even a possibility right now? I’d have the discussion, but I haven’t seen it mentioned except on the gun blogs.

      1. It might have been before Parkland. It’s not now. We’re going to be lucky to keep regular cap magazines, and in some states, semi-auto rifles

  3. So, Sebastian….

    What hill are you willing to die on? I think it’s a fair question so that maybe we have an idea how far apart gun owners really are with respect to their “hills”. And I hunk the definition of a Fudd to anyone suddenly starts to differ.

    1. The overriding goal is to save semi-automatic firearms as an entire class (i.e. they don’t get to just ban scary looking semi-autos) . We have to fight that with everything we got.

  4. This argument over slide-fire stocks reminds me of arguments over the NRA.

    The arguments boil down to the same core: we need to win the war. Don’t endanger losing war over one small fight you can’t win right now.

    And are we winning that war? I’d say that looking at 1985 compared to today, that answer is YES. The very worst you could say is that so far the war is a draw, with worse conditions in Blue States and better conditions in Free States.

  5. Until I hear what we’re getting offered for giving up bump stocks, I will respectfully disagree. In 2020 I’ll reassess.

    I see no tactical approach whatsoever right now being discussed after Fix NICS was passed. Remember how that was the vehicle to bring us national reciprocity?

    1. We might not get anything. That’ll piss me off, but that might be the case.

      FixNICS looks to me like the same bullshit we tried doing three or four times now: More funding for the system. Encouragements for states to report more records to the system.

  6. Todays editorial in the NYT by sitting Supreme Court Justice Stevens, which calls for repealing the 2nd Amendment, should give everyone of us pause to refocus on the larger political context of this slide-fire stock controversy.

    The anti-gunners think they smell our blood, and they are dropping their mask of moderation.

    1. “Sitting” Supreme Court Justice Stevens? As in sitting on a lounge chair in retirement and irrelevance? It’s really easy to opine after one is past prime, and not just on the matter of guns shall we say.

      1. Yep, I’m a dope. I didn’t catch that Stevens is retired. For some reason I confused Stevens with Souter. D’oh!

        So, the editorial isn’t as bad as if Souter wrote it. More comparable to the crap Burger used to say.

        Even so, I stand by the rest of my hot take.

        1. Yes. I get the two S’s mixed up too, so this looks like an error I could recognize.

          On the bright side, it actually does further evidence the point we make when we say that there really are two fundamental ways to begin to approach the 2A: Either we acknowledge that it stands in the way of truly getting rid of guns for the hoplophobic, so it must be repealed. Or it means what it says. As a jurist, even a liberal one, I think he gets that.

          The hot take is valid, but nothing we haven’t run across before during Newtown or pre-AWB period. Make your voice known… HARD.

          1. Repeal of the Second Amendment simply means “weapons free.”

            The 2A recognizes a pre-existing natural right.

            But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

            1. Yes. And it looks like they still haven’t mastered the definition of “well regulated” too, no matter how many times they need to be schooled on “period English”. Is it ignorance or purposeful evasion?

          1. I much prefer it when they’re talking about “We must repeal the 2A!”

            For all the reasons that Glenn lays out. It’s simply better ground for us.

            Much less safe is when they talk about “reasonable restrictions.”

          2. Yeah, that’s what popped into my head when I read the editorial. It’s a victory for us because an anti-gun ex-SCOTUS judge is saying that the second amendment has to be repealed for more gun control.

  7. Remember, the BATFE reclassifying bump-stocks as MGs is a procedure largely outside the control of the legislative and political process. There’s no horses in that corral to trade.

    The law “authorizing” this passed in 1934.

    There’s lawsuits gearing up to protest the overreach, but this is not something we want to make political. There’s a lot more than bump stocks at stake if it opens up to legislation.

    1. … A healthy distinction to make, legislative versus administrative procedure. Your point is valid. I would like to see what anti-gun EOs Trump will go after in the next few years.

      Like I said, I will reassess the situation in 2020.

      1. When evaluating Trump’s overall support of gun rights, we have to recall that he appointed Gorsuch.

        Assuming we don’t get a reason to regret that by 2020, but I don’t rate that very likely.

  8. Bump stocks are the Philipines. We can stand and fight and lose it all or we can live to fight another day. “I shall return.”

  9. From the sounds of it, pretty much everyone is ready to die charging down Bump Stock Hill.

  10. What odds would those willing to die on bump stock hill take in a bet with their own money? A constitutional amendment passing the house and senate and being ratified by 3/4 of the states that bans bump stocks, or finding 10 Senators willing to repeal the Hughes Amendment? Heck, finding five senators willing to repeal Hughes. I’d bet my house on the former. We need to fight where we can win, because losses where we expend political capital can only lead to bigger, far more serious losses. And the analogy to the Philippines is perfect.

  11. The 2A is clearly intended to protect military style weaponry. The SCOTUS even broached this in Miller when they opined that the only arms worthy of protection are those suitable for militia service.

    Hughes killed the most logical interpretation of the 2A: That the 2A protects arms in common military use, to include anything at the company level and below (M16s, M240s, SAWs, etc). Heller eviscerated this argument as well with Scalia’s comments about machine guns.

    The next case is that the 2A protects arms in common civil usage (i.e. police weapons, like AR-15s, and yes, M16s). Hence the fight on semiautos. But we’ve already ceded the logically consistent militia grounds so there’s not much of a leg to stand on. Scalia gave us some “dangerous and unusual” wording in Heller to use but the Courts won’t honor that language, and honestly, why should they? If an M4 which is 100% appropriate for militia usage is effectively banned, then why should the people have access to M9 pistols, M24 sniper rifles (aka Remington 700 bolt guns), or any other military weapons? Why should they have access to AR-15 “patrol rifles” or Glocks with standard magazines (like those used by the State Police)?

    The historically accurate, logically consistent reasoning behind the 2A is now beyond the pale.

    I agree that Bump Stocks are not politically defensible in the current climate. I don’t see the climate improving substantially in the near future so I hope the commentariat is taking notes and planning ahead for what the future looks like under, say, President Kamala Harris. Are bump stocks the hill to die on? Probably not. Are scoped Remington 700s, AR-15s or Glocks?

    1. I think you nailed it Chris.

      The Second Amendment was primarily written to protect “weapons of war” made for killing people in combat.

      “Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man gainst his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American…. [T]he unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.”

      (Tench Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.)

  12. Man, even when called out, you open up with your version of

    “I’m a gun owner, but…”

    Kudos for owning what you said. You’re wrong on bump stocks and machine guns, but kudos for standing by it.

    The current bump stock regulatory action is a dangerous precedent, even more so than the street sweeper ban. Their take is that this makes a machine gun, despite the controlling statutory definition, not comporting with it.

    The current mentality that bump stocks need to be banned is understandable, but misguided. While a spectacular usage in a criminal way, the LV massacre is the only known use of a bump stock in a crime. The perpetrator is dead, escaping justice.

    Why did he do it, or why did the MSD killer do it? Or Pulse, or san bernadino or any of the rest of them?

    Most we don’t know because they’re dead, but where are they getting the idea and motivation to do so? I think there is a compelling circumstantial case to be made that the media trumpeting each of these issues foments the idea that people can claim notoriety and infamy by going out BIG. The media is all too willing to be complicit in creating the next big murderer celebrity.

    1. You’re wrong on bump stocks and machine guns, but kudos for standing by it.

      So you think machine guns are winnable? How? Where are the votes to win on the issue? There’s one way we can win on it: familiarizing more people with them. But how do we do that if politicians are OK with banning a decent portion of the stock? (namely RDIAS devices).

      1. In the same way silencers/suppressors are being won (that’s to say, they’ve been legalized in a bunch of states, and there’s a serious section of the public that wants them off the NFA).

        1. It took a lot of work to get silencers and suppressors to the point they are at. We have good arguments for removing them from the NFA that people who aren’t gun owners understand. Few people want to say “Yeah, screw your hearing, and screw people living near firing ranges.”

          And even with all that, we still do not have votes in Congress for it. Machine guns are not nearly as easy to make arguments for. There’s not much substitute for direct experience.

          1. Silencers and suppressors didn’t arrive to the point where they are now by people saying ‘oh, well, silencers are lost’.

            1. They got to where they are because you can actually legally buy them, even if it’s a PITA. They also aren’t unaffordable, unlike MGs.

              If we hadn’t had Hughes, I might not be saying that, because we would have been able to grow the civilian stock enough to make a difference. But we do have Hughes, and an import ban from 1968, and NFA. It’s a lot to overcome. For the foreseeable future, it’s hearts and minds territory.

  13. It’s one thing to not expend money and resources on a cause you think is lost.

    Its a totally another thing to actively take the wrong side!

    “Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law. The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

    1. The post explains why they did that: Congress was ready and had the votes to act on something much worse. That move was to stop that vote from happening, and to achieve what Congress wanted to do via regulation (which is easier to control under a friendly administration) It worked.

    2. I do follow Chris Cox’s belief in his interview right after the Vegas shooting that the regulation strategy that NRA pursued was the only way to head this off at the pass until cooler heads prevailed. On this, I agree with Sebastian’s point.

      Where I differ with the popular view on this blog is whether or not NRA actually BELIEVED Trump would follow through diligently on his promise with what began as the standard subterfuge. I don’t think anyone actually knows. Maybe the NRA does, but far be it for this Life Benefactor member to know! Trump is 50/50 on follow through, so it is entirely plausible the NRA was “had”.

      Either way, I see donations to PVF tripled in February, so NRA’s actions did SOMETHING good and tangible.

      1. That I don’t know. But it would have been very risky to call for it and not expect there was a strong possibility it was going to happen.

  14. if you want to keep your semi autos, you need to support bump stocks.
    by law a machine gun fires multiple rounds per trigger pull. A bump stock fires 1 round per trigger pull.
    If they ban bump stocks next will come the argument that “hey the BATFE said a semi auto was a machine gun because of an accessory, and I saw on youtube you could do the same with a belt loop, so ALL semi autos are machine guns!”

    if you don’t think they will make that argument you are a fool, We will never get any 2nd rights back IF we are not willing to fight for ALL the 2nd amendment rights GUARANTEED by the US Constitution.

    1. And to all the people that talk of compromising. WHAT part of the 2nd have we gotten BACK. with a compromise?? Every part gotten back was fought for! not recieved as part of giving into the anti gun crowd!

    2. There’s no universe where bump stocks can be saved right now. Your choice is between a broad ban that sweeps in a lot of currently legal activity, and a narrow ban which just bans one type of bump stock. That’s the choice.

  15. I think everybody has to change their mindset. People are not the problem but their mindset is. Gun safety is a big issue and it should be taken very seriously otherwise it will be too late.

  16. My question would be, what is the defense of bump stocks as it relates to the 2nd amendment? That they are fun to own? We’re supposed to be a nation of citizen riflemen ready to oppose all enemies, foreign and domestic. How do poorly aimed mag dumps help accomplish that? They are mimicking the equivalent full auto weapon at the expense of accuracy.

    Bump stocks have two purposes it seems to me, shits and giggles at the firing range and mowing down densely packed crowds of unaware victims at distance.

    Pre-LV, I can defend the first. Post-LV, I can not.

    1. If they can ban the bump stock, they can ban the rifle that it attaches to.

      The rifle is the dangerous part, not the stock.

      1. But how do you defend the bumpstock when it has no useful 2nd amendment purpose? As a range toy or its alternative purpose, murdering dense crowds at medium to long distances?

  17. To hell with silly bump stocks – I want my right to full auto firearms back. End the infringement! Not that full auto is all that great, since accurate aimed fire is far more efficient, but it’s the principle of the thing.

    1. Yep. I’m with you. And to get that back we need enough of them left to spread familiarity. That’s a real uphill climb even with current stocks.

      1. The antigunners had it mostly their own way from the thirties up to the eighties, and reached their high-water mark in 1994, federally. We’re moving the ball, but it’s uphill all the way back.

        One step at a time, and there will be slips back. Like now.

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