People have been complaining about bump stocks since the horrible events in Las Vegas back in October. They’ve repeatedly said that the stocks make guns into machine guns.
Folks who actually understand guns have pointed out that no, they don’t. They simply make it possible to pull the trigger faster. That’s a far cry from a machine gun.
However, it sounds like this guy doesn’t get the distinction, and is now going to prison.
A federal judge handed an American Fork man a nearly three-year prison term Thursday for illegally making and selling more than 1,400 machine-gun converter devices for AR-15-style rifles.
Scott Ray Bishop told U.S. District Judge Dee Benson that he thought his product was the same as bump stocks or trigger assemblies that are sold legally.
“In my view, my kit was no different. In my view, my kit was as legal as they were. I was wrong obviously,” he said.
A jury in January found Bishop guilty of unlawfully engaging in the business of manufacturing machine guns and illegal possession and transfer of machine guns. Benson sentenced Bishop to 33 months in prison followed by three years of probation.
Benson called the case “troubling.” He said Bishop was seemingly unaware of how risky his endeavor was and that a lot of his clientele were people “we would not want converting anything into an automatic weapon.”
I’m going to take a stab in the dark and say that Bishop knew damn good and well what he was doing.
In the process of doing enough research to know how to build these kits, he had to come across the information about why one shouldn’t. He also had to know that Bump Fire went to the ATF to get the thumbs up before ever selling their stocks. The same is true for other trigger modification devices. I find it highly unlikely that he didn’t pick up that information somewhere either.
However, Bishop’s case serves as a hell of a reminder here. Ignorance of the law is not a defense. Don’t get me wrong, I hate that, mostly because there are so many laws that it’s difficult to know all the laws, but when it comes to firearms, you don’t play around. You don’t assume something is legal just because you really, really want it to be.
Again, not that I buy Bishop didn’t know. Anyone remotely knowledgeable about gun laws would have told him that the ATF defines it as a machine gun if you pull the trigger once and can make the weapon shoot multiple times. These kits apparently did just that.
The only way that information got missed was through pure willful ignorance. If Bishop truly didn’t know, it’s because he didn’t want to know. He possibly wanted to try and play ignorant, hoping he’d get a warning if he crossed the line. Well, he didn’t get that. He got just under three years in the can.
Don’t be like Bishop. Know what you’re doing. If in doubt, ask the ATF. You’re not doing anyone any favors by playing the “better to ask forgiveness than permission” card when it comes to firearms.
For better or worse, that’s just how it is.