I already call it tyranny. And I know who to call out as collaborators.
I just read an eye-rolling article from The Rolling Stone entitled “Why isn’t the NRA screaming about the bumpstock ban?”, and I thought I’d do them and everyone else a favor by honestly answering it.
For all the boogeyman accusations that are thrown at the NRA from gun controllers - everything from them wanting children murdered for profits or that they’re a terrorist organization - they are a moderate gun group. They are the Jeff Flake of gun rights. They are not radical libertarians; they are “I’m all for freedom if you have a license and permit, because we’re law abiding law abiders who support enforcing gun control laws already on the books.”
If you want to know why the NRA isn’t screaming about this, you have to go back to how everyone other than avid watchers of Youtube gun porn videos found out about bumpstocks: Las Vegas. After the attack, NRA's Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox issued a joint statement that read in part:
In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved. 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.
It would have been one thing for the NRA to ask again if bump stocks comply with federal law, which they do. Machine gun is legally defined as “any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” There are drop-in products which can make semiautomatic firearms fire continuously with one pull on the trigger (like a drop-in auto sear), and those are regulated as if they are machine guns.
The problem with the NRA’s statement after asking again if bumpstocks comply with federal law is then asking for additional regulations on devices that “function like” machine guns.
All semiautomatic firearms can “function like” machine guns, with a bumpstock or without one. A function of semiautomatic firearms is that they can be bump fired. Rather than actuating the trigger by squeezing your finger to fire one round, you instead use your other hand and pull forward on the firearm so the trigger pulls into your finger. When the gun fires, it recoils backwards away from your finger, but because you’re still pulling forward on the gun with your other hand, you pull the trigger into your finger again and it fires. You’re using the recoil of the gun and the forward pull of your other hand to actuate the trigger faster than you could probably squeeze your finger, but you’re still firing one round with every trigger pull.
If you have a rifle equipped with a bumpstock and you wanted to rock and roll full auto... you’d yell “GET SOME” and squeeze the trigger... and you’d fire one round and be very disappointed.
All a bumpstock does is basically rests a rifle against your shoulder and slides backward with the recoil of the rifle. No spring assists or anything; you still have to pull forward with your other hand to pull the trigger into your finger. When done correctly, yes, you can fire faster. But you can do the same without a bumpstock.
“Function like” and “meeting the legal definition of” a machine gun are VERY different things, and that’s the rub everyone had with the NRA’s stance. If there was to be any “additional regulations”, the law about what constitutes a machine gun would either have to be changed OR the current law would have to be ignored and any additional regulation would be an illegal regulation. In laymen’s terms, at their best the NRA was either saying enforce current gun control laws or pass additional gun control laws to ban bumpstocks, at their worst the NRA would be supporting the ATF making stuff up to ban whatever they want. Needless to say this pissed off a lot of gun people.
In a response to pissing gun people off, executive director of the Unified Sportsmen of Florida and former President of the NRA, Marion Hammer, sent a scathing letter to NRA board members denouncing the pissed off people. In it, she attempted to reexplain the NRA’s position, but instead showed us all either how clueless the NRA is about bumpstocks and their function, or how manipulative, deceptive, and dishonest the NRA can be to get what they want. To show my good faith, here is the entire letter, but with pithy commentary by yours truly:
In 1934 the first federal gun control law in America was passed. The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) became the law of the land. The NRA was asleep at the switch. Most of us hadn’t even been born then. It is not of our making but like all good, honest, law-abiding Americans, the NRA obeys the law. The NFA regulates fully-automatic firearms and has done so for 83 years. [narrator: and the NRA actively supports enforcing this law, read on]
The “bump-stock” device, used by the killer in the Las Vegas shooting, converts a semi-auto rifle to a full-auto rifle. [narrator: no, it doesn’t] Anyone who has ever used a bump-stock or watched a video demonstrating its use, can only conclude that it is a converter. [narrator: no, it isn’t]
If you listened to an audio recording of the shooting during that horrific massacre, you must have concluded that it was full-auto fire. You were not alone, many firearms experts and law enforcement professionals came to the same conclusion. It was not until later that information was released disclosing that bump-stocks had been used to convert semi-automatic firearms to perform like full-auto firearms. [narrator: “perform like” does not equal “convert”, legally]
In spite of the seemingly noble reason the manufacturer claims for developing it, the bump-stock circumvents federal law. [narrator: it complies with the law, it does not circumvent it. Are you going to call it a loophole next?] Regardless of the quality and reliability or lack thereof of this device – it converts a semi-auto to full-auto when installed. [narrator: no, it doesn’t... and didn’t you just say it only “performs like” a full auto?]
Do you have any idea how many people were shocked out of their minds when ATF decided bump-stocks were not subject to regulation and APPROVED them for sale and use? [narrator: only if you didn’t actually read the law defining machine gun or know how a bumpstock actually functions] That was under the Obama administration for crying out loud. Your mind is forced to run wild wondering why. [narrator: not really, the law was actually followed and complied with]
Once the ruling was made, what would you expect NRA to do? Do you think NRA should have said, Oh! No, ATF is wrong, ATF made a mistake? [narrator: isn’t that exactly what you’re doing now?]
It doesn’t matter what laws the NRA doesn’t agree with or doesn’t like, the NRA must abide by the law. [narrator: there’s a difference between abiding by the law and actively calling for its misapplied enforcement] For decades, over and over again when the enemies of the Second Amendment have tried to capitalize on tragedies by calling for more gun control, NRA has called for enforcing existing law. [narrator: i.e. enforce gun control] That is exactly what we are doing now. [narrator: first, you’re demanding that gun control be enforced, and second, you’re demanding that a gun control law be enforced illegally against a product that complies with the law which is worse]
Make no mistake, the NRA has NOT cleared the way for more regulation. [narrator: yes you have] If it were not for ATF’s wink and nod to the manufacturer of the bump-stock, it would already be regulated under federal law. [narrator: no it wouldn’t] NRA has tossed it back into ATF’s lap where it belongs. [narrator: and they’d toss it back like they did multiple times under Obama, except now Trump wants bumpstocks banned, and OrangeManGood] NRA has not agreed to any new legislation nor has NRA said we agree with any existing NFA legislation. [narrator: except that you want it enforced, because you’re good law abiding supporters of law enforcers who enforce gun control] NRA has not agreed to a ban. NRA has not agreed to anything. [narrator: except regulating bumpstocks like machine guns by fiat] NRA simply insists upon enforcing existing law. [narrator: but you’re not applying the law correctly to bumpstocks, and you still want gun control enforced]
The enemies freedom and the Second Amendment are spewing hysteria from the podiums they have planted in the blood of innocent victims. These anti-Second Amendment heretics are using these victims as their stalking horse to get some new gun control legislation on the floor of the Congress. [narrator: at least they’re doing it through Congress where it’ll fail instead of demanding a ban through regulatory fiat]
These victims have fallen and are suffering because of the evil acts of a deranged madman who could have carried out his destruction even if bump-stocks were not available under ATF’s approval. He would have found another way. [narrator: I finally agree with you]
Don’t blame bump-stocks, don’t blame ATF, don’t blame anybody but the evil people who perpetrated this crime. No law, no regulation stops those with evil in their hearts. [narrator: then why are you demanding this?]
The frantic cries from antagonists who want to take your freedom are intended to stampede you and Congress into supporting more gun control. [narrator: they’ll never do that to me, but they’re doing a great job on you]
But it doesn’t stop there. Is it not clear to you that, just like the media, some members of the NRA Board are misinterpreting what the NRA has said? [narrator: you’re doing a great job of misrepresenting the facts all on your own]
Additionally, there are “Trojan horse members” who are deliberately misinterpreting what the NRA has said. Just like having an (R) after your name doesn’t make you a conservative Republican, having an NRA membership card doesn’t make you an honest member. [narrator: hello? Oh hi pot, want to talk to kettle? No? Why? Because it’s black?? What a racist! Oh, you’re black too? I guess it’s ok then]
Be very careful of anti-NRA people claiming to have many supporters who are merely standing in a hall of mirrors and seeing their own reflections. Don’t be fooled. [narrator: likewise]
This fight is not about the personal financial interests of NRA Board members. This fight should not be used by any individual Board member to attack NRA as a means elevate their own popularity with dissidents and “Trojan horse members.” [narrator: you don’t like threats to your own seat of power, we get it]
This particular fight is about following existing law. [narrator: that you aren’t applying correctly] If you don’t believe that bump-stocks convert semi-autos to full-autos then you have not seen what I have seen. [narrator: I saw a magician cut a woman in half once, still not charged with murder... must be circumventing the law or something] While the conversion may be reversible by removing and replacing the device, it none less makes a semi-auto perform like a full-auto when installed. [narrator: you keep saying that...]
We do not need new legislation, we do not need new regulation, we simply need ATF to review it’s previous approval and enforce existing law. That’s what NRA said. [narrator: but the NRA is wrong, and not to be too big of a stickler, but the NRA specifically asked for “additional regulations”] That will render bump-stocks irrelevant. [narrator: gun control created the bumpstock. Want to make bumpstocks irrelevant? Repeal the NFA] There is no need for Congress to be stampeded into doing anything else. No matter how you twist it, or what your own personal agenda may be, the NRA has not compromised. [narrator: keep telling yourself that]
If ATF won’t do it on its own, President Trump should order ATF to review it’s ruling made under the Obama administration. [narrator: and there it is, TrumpStockBan, endorsed by the NRA]
We should stand united. We need to enforce existing law. We don’t need any new gun control legislation. Any member of Congress who wants to sacrifice more of our freedom under the pretense of providing safety should know that we don’t forgive the betrayal of freedom or the Second Amendment and we won’t give a wink and a nod to political eye wash as a substitute for backbone. [narrator: I’ll keep that in mind when I think about what gun rights group to support]
The only legislation we need to see on the floor of Congress right now is carry reciprocity and elimination of suppressor regulations. [narrator: in conclusion, get bumpstocks off everyone’s minds so we can get back to our pet projects that never got passed, even with a Republican House, a Republican Senate, and a Republican President]
End letter, and pithy commentary.
So, here we are today. Trump, by illegal executive regulatory fiat, has classified bumpstocks as machine guns, just like the NRA wanted. Owners have 90 days to get rid of them. And the NRA isn’t screaming. But they are mumbling a little, trying to save face.
The NRA has come out and boldly stated they’re not happy with the decision because, well, owners should have at least been given some kind of “amnesty” to keep their newly classified machine guns.
Sorry, but I’m not letting them get off that easy. The NRA can’t call for bumpstocks to be illegally regulated like machine guns, then cry afoul when they are. This is on them, they own it, right alongside Trump. With the NRA’s help, up to 500,000 gun owners are being threatened with unlawful possession of a machine gun if they don’t surrender their lawfully acquired property, without due process and without compensation, or face up to 10 years in federal prison and/or up to $250,000 in fines - and don’t forget, the NRA proudly supports enforcing the law.
“But bumpstocks are stupid, is this really the hill you want to die on?”
This has as much to do with bumpstocks as a product as the Boston Tea Party had to do with tea as a product. I don’t own a bumpstock, and I hate tea. If this stands, if the government can just make up what they think a law should mean regardless of what it actually says, to ban things people already own that the government doesn’t want them to own, to require their confiscation, surrender, or destruction, or have their owners kidnapped, imprisoned, or murdered by the government if they refuse to comply... what does the government have to do before you’ll call it tyranny?
I already call it tyranny. And I know who to call out as collaborators.
Luckily there are other organizations and activists who are fighting this. There are multiple lawsuits already filed in different districts around the country to see if we get any judge to block this criminal regulation.
And if NRA members want to save what’s left of a compromised organization, I suggest removing the collaborators at the top.