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Supreme Court allows bump stock ban

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 3/28/19, 01:08 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday declined to stop the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on bump stock devices, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire in rapid succession, similar to machine guns. The ban took effect Tuesday.

President Donald Trump said last year that the government would move to restrict bump stocks in response to an October 2017 shooting in Las Vegas in which a gunman used the devices in an attack on concertgoers from his hotel room window. Shooter Stephen Paddock was able to fire more than 1,000 rounds in 11 minutes, killing 58 people and injuring more than 800 others before fatally shooting himself.

Gun rights advocates have filed several lawsuits to try to stop the ban, but courts so far declined to do so. Bump stock owners had 30 days beginning Dec. 26, 2018, to either destroy the devices or hand them in to a field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.


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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • Sean McGrew's picture
    Sean McGrew
    Posted: Thu, 03/28/2019 02:04 pm

    And just like that, approximately 500,000 law-abiding American citizens have instantly become felons who are risking their freedom by owning a piece of plastic. I'm sure that this will change the nature of man's heart and redirect his inclination towards evil. I'm sure that we will never again see another mass murder.

    So what if we have to destroy the lives of 500,000 formerly-law-abiding citizens? It's totally worth the price. Well done, bureaucrats! Well, done, indeed.

    Source of ownersip numbers: US Government. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/12/26/2018-27763/bump-sto...

  • Allen Johnson
    Posted: Thu, 03/28/2019 03:20 pm

    Sean,
    Question 1. Can you please explain how banning bump stocks "destroys" the lives of 500,000 ... citizens? 
    Question 2. Are there that many (500,000) bump stocks in circulation? I did not read the lengthy federal register link.
    Question 3. "risking their freedom by owning a piece of plastic," you gripe. So explain what the purpose of this plastic is? And how this "risks" one's freedom?  What precious freedom, and how will it hurt?
    Question 4. If, perchance, you consider yourself a Christian, please explain how having a bump stock displays a faithful discipleship to Jesus?
    Question 5. Again, back to the Christian question, do the 500,000 owners of bump stocks own these for the pleasure of rapid-fire target practice, or for other purposes as well, and if the latter, what?

  •  dcsfoyle's picture
    dcsfoyle
    Posted: Thu, 03/28/2019 04:39 pm

    Allen,

    Question 1: It destroys the lives of these citizens by instantly making them felons -- exactly like Sean said.

    Question 2: Don't insult someone by refusing to read their cited source for proof of their assertion and then asking for more proof.

    Question 3 seems to show that you don't believe that individuals are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. It was not the original purpose of our government to regulate everything, but to facilitate the utilization of those rights. Any regulation of the rights of citizens is a wearing-away of the freedom of these citizens.

    Question 4 is a non sequitur. Do you think that one cannot be a faithful disciple and own a bump stock?

    Question 5: It's not really anyone's business but the owner.

    Eric

  • Laura W
    Posted: Thu, 03/28/2019 07:16 pm

    Okay, I went and found the ownership numbers. I found this: " There were a number of commenters who stated this rule will affect between 200,000 and 500,000 owners" and this " The 280,000-520,000 range in the Executive Order 12866 section of the NPRM is the estimated number of bump-stock-type devices in circulation, not the number of owners."

    Do you think maybe you're overstating the other parts as well? They only become felons if they don't turn in or destroy that piece of plastic, as is now required by law. (And I noticed the cost of sending out notices to owners was included in a discussion of the projected cost of the change.) It might be a bad idea (personally, I'm undecided), but I don't expect it to ruin anyone's life either. And isn't your bar of proof a little high? If we could wave a wand and remove guns from existence and memory, criminals and governments all, that wouldn't stop mass murders either, but I think it would sure cut down on the casualties. A sinful heart still needs access to some sort of means to carry out all its plans.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Thu, 03/28/2019 11:09 pm

    Here’s a question:  if people own an item of recreational equipment, which the government has previously said is not in violation of any law, is it actually legal for the government to ban said recreational equipment and order the items be destroyed or surrendered, and without compensation at that?

    I don’t own a bump stock and never wanted one.  But I’ve never thought those who want one should be prohibited from owning one. I also think it’s ludicrous and perhaps even offensive to question the Christianity of someone who owns or wants one. It’s a TOY, for Petes sake, something a guy and his buddies take to the rifle range for some giggles.  Well, don’t want to be sexist, women enjoy recreational shooting too! 

    And by the way, mass murderers/terrorists can and have rented trucks to mow down pedestrians, and I bet a lot of us own a big Tahoe or Ford F-150 that is capable of exactly the same carnage. Also, don’t forget the largest mass murder/act of terrorism in US history was committed without a single firearm. 

  • not silent
    Posted: Fri, 03/29/2019 11:08 pm

    Considering how contentious this issue is, I did some research.  The article has a link to an ATF site which provides a lot of information about the new rule (www.atf.gov).  According to an FAQ on the site, the rule clarififies that the definition of "machinegun" includes bump stock devices.  The site also states that there has been 90 days for owners to come into compliance with the rule and that no one was penalized or considered a felon prior to that time.

    The ATF site links to another site at www.govinfo.gov, which describes the process by which the rule came into being and answers some of the objections that have been raIsed.  I will try to give a brief summary, but I would encourage anyone with questions to visit the site itself because it gives a long history of how guns are regulated and about past and current definitions of "machinegun" as well as why the changes were made.

    In December of 2017, the Justice Department published a notice in the Federal Register about proposed changes called "Application of the definition of Machinegun to 'Bump fire' stocks and other similar devices."  A subsequent notice was published in March of 2018 regarding a proposal to "clarify that bump-stock-type devices are 'machineguns'" as defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934 and by the Gun Control Act of 1968 because they allow the shooter to "initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger."  (This demonstrates legal precedent.)  Some of the current confusion may come from the fact that the ATF ruled in 2006 that SOME bump stock devices were machinguns (there's a long explanation of this); but, between 2008 and 2017, it declared that certain OTHER bump stock devices were not considered machineguns and thus were legal to own.  

    After the mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017, there were many requests for the ATF to review its classification of bump stocks; and the first step was the notice in December of 2017 as described above.  Comments were solicited; and 186,000 comments were received-119,264 in favor of the rule, 66,182 opposed, and the views of the rest unclear.  Some supporters of the change included people who described themselves as active and former military, gun owners and enthusiasts, strong supporters of the Second Amendment, members of pro-gun interest groups, students, teachers, and public officials.  One person who identified as a member of the NRA for 30 years and a hunting enthusiast said there was no justification for bump stocks becuase their only purpose was to "create a kill zone."  Others said that the fact that bump stocks enable rapid but inaccurate fire increases the risk.  Over 27,000 supporters of the ruling felt that bump stocks allowed owners to circumvent the restrictions posed by the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act.

    Although commenters who opposed the ruling claimed it went against the Second Amendment, the document describes numerous Supreme Court decisions stating that the right to bear arms is not unlimited and that machine guns are not protected by the Second Amendment.  One commenter claimed that the new ruling was a form of entrapment (because owners of bump stocks would now be considered felons), but the article says that two of the elements required for a claim of entrapment are that the government must "provide inducement of the crime" and the defendent must lack "predisposition to engage in the criminal act."  Many other objections were addressed, but I will close with these: According to the article, the ATF fulfilled all its requirements regarding notifying the public about the rule change and helping gun owners avoid breaking the law.  Also, the ruling was not made just because bump stocks might be used in the performance of criminal acts but as a needed clarification to prior rulings.

       

  • OldMike
    Posted: Mon, 04/01/2019 03:48 am

    The long-accepted definition of a machine gun is a firearm which fires more than once with only a single pull of the trigger, as you mention.  However, the ruling that a bumpstock does that is totally incorrect.  The bumpstock is a device that allows the shooter to pull the trigger repeatedly very fast, but there is still only one shot fired for each pull of the trigger.  A bumpstock is actually not necessary to do this, it simply makes it easier.  There are techniques, with no device of any kind needed, by which a shooter can duplicate the rapid rate of fire with a semi-automatic firearm, but the gun still fires only once per each pull of the trigger.  I realize this really makes no difference to anyone who is not a gun enthusiast, but still, challenges to the legality of the ruling will probably be based upon this.

    And finding some "gun owners and enthusiasts" who support the ban does absolutely no more to validate the ban than finding a few Republicans who support abortion, and trying to make out of that a validation of the right to abortion.

    As far as having 90 days warning before the ban made anyone a felon, that does not address or rectify the fact that citizens' legally owned property had to be destroyed or surrendered without compensation to prevent the owners becoming felons.

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