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The Bumpstock Ban

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Poulin, Mark

2018-12-30

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (the ATF), and the entire executive branch have again stepped beyond their enumerated powers and scope which is to be limited by the Constitution.

Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal government given the power to regulate the ownership nor sale of alcohol, tobacco, and firearms (save for the eighteenth amendment which prohibited alcohol, which was later repealed by the twenty-first amendment).

The Constitution does however specifically limit the federal government to enumerated powers within the Constitution in the tenth amendment. Furthermore, the broader executive branch may not legislate, alter laws, nor reinterpret laws. The executive branch has a clear-cut scope: execution of law (enforcement of laws as they are written), law must be executed per a specific hierarchy. Local laws are superseded by county law, those laws are superseded by state law, all previous laws are superseded by federal law, and all laws are superseded by the supreme law of the nation: the Constitution.

 

What did the ATF do? They deemed that all bumpstocks (bump fire and slide-fire devices) are in fact fully automatic weapons. They also deemed that all bumpstocks are illegal given that they were manufactured after 1986. This determination was made at the request of the Trump administration and the National Rifle Association (the NRA) who have unequivocally betrayed their voters and members. Donald Trump ran a campaign in which he promised his administration would be friendly to the second amendment of the Constitution and the National Rifle Association was founded to protect the right to bear arms.

There’s some history to this reinterpretation of law. The two primary laws being referenced (and changed by the ATF) are the National Firearms Act of 1934 and the Firearm Owner Protection Act of 1986.

The National Firearms Act of 1934 is a federal law that was not passed as an amendment to the Constitution, but this has no less been enforced despite it being a clear infringement of the second amendment to the Constitution. Among other things, the National Firearms Act of 1934 required that citizens acquire a tax stamp to own automatic firearms, short barreled long guns (shortened rifles or shotguns), silences/suppressors (which do not silence firearms, actually leaving them quite loud), and destructive devices (explosives, projectile weapons that include rocket propulsion, etc.). The law also required all such arms to be registered with the federal government.

The Firearm Owner Protection Act of 1986 was named in a deceptive manner. Likewise, this act is a federal law that was not passed as an amendment to the Constitution and it has been enforced despite being in conflict with the second amendment to the Constitution. One of the results of this act was that all automatic firearms manufactured after 1986 were completely banned from civilian ownership; one cannot acquire a tax stamp to own a modern automatic firearm under this unconstitutional law.

The ATF which may not legislate, nor make rulings on laws per the Constitution has used these laws to call a bumpstock an automatic weapon. They argue that a bumpstock allows automatic fire with a single pull of the trigger, in an attempt to get bumpstocks to fit the definition of an automatic weapon under the National Firearms act of 1934 “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.” A bumpstock does not meet these requirements and it is not a weapon in and of itself. Here is what a bumpstock does: it uses the recoil of a semiautomatic weapon to reciprocate the weapon erratically off of a spring, as the weapon bounces forward off of the spring it is pushed into the operator’s finger pulling the trigger again shooting the weapon once per each trigger pull. This false interpretation of the unconstitutional 1934 law, coupled with the accurate interpretation of the unconstitutional 1968 law, makes all bumpstocks “illegal” as they were invented after 1986.

 

There are additional problems aside from the unconstitutional existence of the ATF, the unconstitutional legislation by the executive branch which is to no such powers, and the unconstitutional legislation passed by congress without amending the Constitution which explicitly bars any legislation limited the ownership of any arms. The issues are numerous but for the sake of brevity I will only mention a few here:

To retroactively ban property without grandfathering existing property, is also unconstitutional as all people have a right to their own property. So, the government has to break yet another constitutional protection of rights to carry out this ill-conceived ban.

A bumpstock may be made quite easily at home. The first bumpstock prototype was a two-by-four, a PVC pipe, and a spring; plans for this design are readily available online. One may also simply use a rubber band, a string, or their belt-loop and thumb (without needing to fabricate a single part) to bump fire or slide-fire a variety of semiautomatic firearms. Bump firing is, and originally only was, a technique which anyone could learn with practice; no additional parts are required to bump fire semiautomatic rifles. Even if the ATF is ready to declare wood, two-by-fours, PVC piping, springs, rubber bands, strings, belt loops and thumbs, and knowledgeable shooters all bumpstocks and themselves also automatic weapons the law is completely unenforceable. One cannot confiscate all of these things (including human beings).

These bans have not worked at a state level. The states which have implemented similar unconstitutional legislation banning bumpstocks have been ineffective with next to no one turning in their property. The government is carrying out an action proven to be ineffective, in a political move to make ill informed voters feel good that something is being done.

Automatic weapons themselves may be made quite simply at home. There are ways to convert AR-15s, AR-10s, and other similar firearms to be fully automatic with an M16 or M14 bolt carrier group (which is completely legal) and a homemade part altering the trigger group to fire automatically. The homemade part is easily made with no machining experience required out of wire coat hangers or sheet metal. Will the ATF ban wire coat hangers next?

 

You may be pro second amendment and still be fine with this ban. You may say “It’s just an accessory after all, not truly protected ‘arms.’” You would be wrong, and I say that as kindly as possible. If you use this as your standard then scopes are accessories, iron sites are accessories, pistol grips are accessories, barrel shrouds are accessories, trigger groups are accessories, magazines are accessories, clips are accessories, and even ammunition would not be protected.