Just imagine: The year’s 2025, Elizabeth Warren has just been inaugurated as President. You’re at the range, shooting your legally-acquired AR-15 when an ATF agent puts you in handcuffs, takes away your gun, and tells you you’re under arrest for owning a “machine gun.”
That may sound crazy now, but if the ATF’s proposed rule change designed to ban “bump stocks” and other devices designed to “increase the rate of fire” on a firearm goes into effect, that very well could happen. That’s because the rule doesn’t just ban bump stocks, it changes the definition of what a “machine gun” is.
In short, currently under federal code a machine gun is a firearm that can fire more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger. The new proposal changes that in an extremely confusing way. To understand that we’re going to need to review the proposed language, found on page 13,475 of the Federal Register:
* * * For purposes of this definition, the term ‘‘automatically’’ as it modifies ‘‘shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot,’’ means functioning as the result of a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism that allows the firing of multiple rounds through a single function of the trigger; and ‘‘single function of the trigger’’ means a single pull of the trigger. The term ‘‘machine gun’’ includes bump-stock type devices, i.e., devices that allow a semiautomatic firearm to shoot more than one shot with a single pull of the
trigger by harnessing the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm to which it is
affixed so that the trigger resets and continues firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter.
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Sounds confusing, right? Well lets review exactly what this is intended to do, and exactly what could be done with this. One important thing to note is that if this rule change goes into effect, it will stay in effect for the next President. So if we have an anti-gun President in office, their administration could interpret this differently than the Trump Administration, which makes this dangerous.
While the language specifically states that it includes “bump-stock type devices,” it doesn’t keep it at that, which to many gun owners, is bad enough. Instead, it goes on to describe what a bump stock is. Under that definition, any “device” that can harness “the recoil energy of a semiautomatic firearm” to allow it to continue firing “without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter” would be considered a machine gun.
What else could be used to do that? A rubber band, a belt loop, and even a shoelace.
With that knowledge, going back to the beginning of the machine gun definition is important. The term “readily restored to shoot” creates a dangerous precedent. Under an anti-gun administration, that term could be used to justify the banning of any semi-automatic firearm, as virtually every semi-automatic firearm can be “readily restored to shoot” at a rate which meets the definition of a “machine gun” simply by using a belt loop with a little ingenuity.
So wearing pants with belt loops, while holding an AR-15 could meet the definition, as the belt loop is readily available.
This rule change is currently in the comment period, and many gun rights activists are now fighting it. Dudley Brown, President of the National Association for Gun Rights, is one of those activists fighting back. He spoke exclusively to Big League Politics to explain what his group is doing.
“We’ve been sounding the alarm about this since day one,” Brown stated. “It is a lot easier to stop a federal rule change before it goes into effect than to change it later, which is why we are alerting our 4.5 million members and supporters to this dangerous scheme.”
It is unknown is President Donald Trump is aware of the dangers behind the wording of this rule change, but he has stated his support for banning bump stocks in the past, leading towards anger from many of his pro-gun supporters.
Big League Politics will keep you updated on any developments around this story.