Thursday, October 5, 2017

NRA Caves on Bump-Fire Stocks

       The NRA has released a statement calling for the ATF to reevaluate the legality of bump-fire stocks, according to The Truth About Guns. (See also these news stories from the BBC and NBC). The full statement reads:
        In the aftermath of the evil and senseless attack in Las Vegas, the American people are looking for answers as to how future tragedies can be prevented.

        Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control. Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks. This is a fact that has been proven time and again in countries across the world.

        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.

        In an increasingly dangerous world, the NRA remains focused on our mission: strengthening Americans’ Second Amendment freedom to defend themselves, their families and their communities.

         To that end, on behalf of our five million members across the country, we urge Congress to pass National Right-to-Carry reciprocity, which will allow law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families from acts of violence.
          I'm not sure what the NRA's reasoning is on this. Are they trying to avoid any consideration of Feinstein's legislation? Are they setting the ground for trading bump-fire stocks for national reciprocity (specifically mentioned in the last sentence of the statement)? Are they providing cover for the Republican Congressmen that have already voiced support for banning the devices? Do they see the issue as a lost cause, and simply don't believe it is worth the fight? Or are they selling out certain gun owners as they have done so many times in the past (remembering that the NRA has backed every major gun control bill passed by Congress, including the original NFA)? What I'm sure is that this will be decisive within the gun community and will further erode trust in the NRA.

        First as to the decisiveness with the gun community. The truth of the matter is a lot of gun owners probably never heard of a bump-fire stock before this tragedy, would never buy or use one if they had, and don't care if they are banned. It's intended purpose, after all, is purely for fun; it doesn't serve any purpose in hunting or competition. Hence, the "right" to own one is trivial to them, and not worth a fight. However, there are many gun owners (and I think it has increased over the years) that have the attitude of not giving an inch, and won't tolerate a ban on these stocks, or will, at the least, would require some concession from the gun grabbers. For them, the fight is not over this particular item, but a general resistance to being pushed further down the slope to more general gun control. (It is not a foolish position from my perspective of having seen first hand the erosion of gun rights in the late 1980s and early 1990s that led to the assault weapons ban. I believe that the assault weapons ban was allowed to sunset partly because the number of work-arounds to the ban showed how stupid and useless it truly was). Gun owners were able to come around to defending the AR because both of these groups were able to agree that banning one type of firearm could lead to bans on others (and it helped that the AR was increasingly seen as a hunting rifle). But the "firearms must serve some useful purpose like hunting or self-defense or competition" crowd will never agree to fight over what they view as a mere gimmick, and the sense of betrayal that the "not one more inch" crowd will have may not go away.

       And this leads to the second issue--the legitimacy of the NRA. I have always found it revealing that when the NRA displays photographs of someone committed to gun rights, or that represent what the NRA stands for, it is generally someone posing with an expensive shotgun for hunting or competition. The NRA is, at heart, a sporting association, not a civil rights group, and this decision will confirm for many that the NRA should not be trusted to represent gun owners.

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