Today we're talking about bump stocks and about a phrase of mine.
"'Good idea,' 'needs to happen,' and 'needs to be a law' are not the same things."
To explain bump stocks, we're going to have to go into some history.
One of the reasons why yelling for "reasonable gun restrictions" will get you laughed at is that it's been tried before. Repeatedly through the 20th century. All of which in response to national panic at something or another. None of which were effective at actually preventing shootings.
Gangland violence during prohibition brought us the National Firearms Act of 1934. This brought extremely tight regulation of short-barreled rifles & shotguns, fully automatic weapons, suppressors, and offensive explosives like grenades and such.
You CAN own any of the above. By paying a special tax, filling out some paperwork, and effectively agreeing that the 4th Amendment never applies to you again.
Fast-forward to 1968 with the Gun Control Act. This established the Federal Firearms Licensing system, restricted interstate buying and shipping, and mandated serial numbers on all firearms. More or less a reaction to the deaths of JFK, MLK, and RFK.
Then comes 1986, with the passage of the Firearm Owners Protection Act.
Yep. Turns out when you give a government agency wide latitude to enforce regulations, they take that petty power and run with it. Which is what the ATF spent the 70's doing. Multiple gun dealers were effectively harassed out of business. Several of the rest took severe hits in sales dealing with audit after audit. After a congressional subcomittee meeting, FOPA was put together. It clarified exactly who was prohibited from owning a firearm, adopted safe passage for transporting guns between states, limited the number of compliance inspections the ATF could do at any given location and so on.
Then NJ Senator William Hughs (D) introduced an amendment: no more NFA weapons could be manufactured after that year.
The Republicans were faced with a choice: give up yet another chunk of the Second Amendment by legal means, or dump the bill and allow the ATF to continue regulating and harassing weapons dealers out of existence?
They passed the act. President Reagan signed it into law.
So, what does this have to do with bump stocks?
Well, the legal difference between automatic and semiautomatic is defined by what the trigger does. Semiautomatic means one trigger pull = one shot. Then the finger has to come off and the trigger reset before it can be pulled again.
Automatic means one trigger pull = as many shots as can be cycled through before the finger comes back off the trigger.
A bump stock doesn't change how the trigger operates. Instead, it attaches a moving stock slide to a cutout in the trigger guard. When set properly, it uses the recoil of a shot fired to push the shooter's finger off the trigger, then pull it back on to pull the trigger again. The shooter stops by straightening their finger.
So for those who can't afford to spend five figures on one of the dwindling number of legal full auto weapons in existence, a shooter can have a similar experience.
As an engineering challenge it's kind of neat. As a political statement it's mildly clever (The U.S. Patent office and the ATF under then-president Obama both approved them).
As someone who used to work with automatic weapons fire as a job tool, I think bump stocks are stupid. But I don't see a reason to ban them.
Not gonna go into why (at least not on Facebook I ain't), but I wouldn't be surprised to find out that bump stocks were a factor in why the death toll wasn't even higher.
I definitely don't see a reason to ban them as yet another knee-jerk reaction to a shooting. It didn't work in 1934, 1968, 1986, or 1994, it ain't gonna have the intended effect of stopping shootings now.
Nor is any other proposal I've heard. There's been a bill running through congress to remove suppressors from the NFA classification. Hillary Clinton of all people tweeted that the death toll in Vegas would be higher if the shooter had suppressors.
Hillary doesn't know what the fuck she's talking about. Not going to go into why, but it would've made him even less accurate AND wouldn't have made him any harder to hide.
Something stupid can be avoided.
Bringing the power of the law down on something should be reserved for what the law can effect and nothing else can do so effectively.