The Department of Justice is reportedly set to declare bump stocks as machine guns, thus making the thousands of Americans who purchased them legally criminals.
On Thursday, The Truth About Guns reported on the coming finding.
“The Department of Justice is issuing a rulemaking that would interpret the statutory definition of machine gun in the National Firearms Act of 1934 and Gun Control Act of 1968 to clarify whether certain devices, commonly known as bump-fire stocks, fall within that definition.”
That’s the intro (or “abstract”) to the DoJ’s newly issued public rule following their re-examination of the classification of bump fire stocks. This, of course, was done after last year’s Las Vegas Mandalay Bay shooting in which 58 people were killed and hundreds more were injured. That was the only crime in which a bump fire stock had ever been used.
The ATF had issued an approval letter to SlideFire for their bump fire stock back in 2010 that read, in part:
“The stock has no automatically functioning mechanical parts or springs and performs no automatic mechanical function when installed. … Accordingly, we find that the ‘bump-stock’ is a firearm part and is not regulated as a firearm under Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.”
That was, of course, the correct ruling under the law as written.
In February, however, President Trump directed Justice to take another look at them, a move that was supported at the time by the NRA. He apparently wanted the ATF to look deeply into the emanations and penumbras of the law to see if, just maybe, there was a way to look at bump fire stocks in a whole new way.
Well, take another look they have, and — to the surprise of no one — now that we’re past the midterms, the DoJ has now classified bump fire stocks as NFA-regulated items, the legal equivalent of a machine gun.
Now, let me make a couple of things clear. This quoted portion is from when TTAG thought this was already a done deal. It’s not.
I’m not pointing this out to throw any shade on those folks over there. They do some good work, and it was a misunderstanding that they moved swiftly to correct. It happens and my hats off to them for owning it and making the correction as quickly as they did.
Instead, I’m going to use this to point out the problem with allowing bureaucrats to made determinations on what is legal and what isn’t. That initial report could just as easily have been accurate. With a stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen, thousands of people could be guilty of a felony.
The truth of the matter is that bump stocks aren’t a freaking problem. Since 2010, they’ve been used in exactly one crime. Yes, it was a horrific one, but it’s still just one crime.
Further, banning bump stocks won’t stop bump firing. The same thing can be accomplished with a rubber band or a belt loop. Will those end up being banned as well?
While the DOJ still hasn’t issued this ruling, the fact that they can is troubling. Bump stocks aren’t machine guns as the law is written, after all. Instead, someone just decides to make them illegal, just because. And not just illegal, but making it a felony.
If you can’t see the problem with this, you’re blind.