Now that a Republican is in the White House and calling for federal gun control, it’s interesting to note where various gun groups stand now compared to the Obama years when similar unconstitutional measures were proposed.
President Trump has announced plans to ban bump stocks, devices used to make semi-automatic rifles capable of firing nearly as rapidly as an automatic. The opposition coalition includes the Gun Owners Foundation, the Gun Owners of America, the Firearms Policy Coalition, and Firearms Policy Foundation. Several of these groups have filed petitions arguing in favor of keeping bump stocks legal, while a joint filing made in June offering a devastating critique of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)’s proposal.
Reason Magazine explains:
Today’s lengthy filing by the two Second Amendment groups, the Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation, is likely to prove embarrassing to the ATF. It lays out a convincing argument that the agency had investigated bump-fire stocks in great detail, and, in sworn testimony and pleadings in federal district court, concluded that they were perfectly legal under federal law.
According to the Daily Caller, Gun Owners of America Chairman Tim Macy offered an excellent response to the notion of a federal bump stock ban. “These regulations will infringe the Second Amendment rights of Americans — the very same Americans who elected the current President based on his promises that he would defend those rights. Respectfully, we want to emphasize there is no legal authority to ban so-called ‘bump stocks’ or ‘bump-fire stocks’ by decree.”
According to Reuters, ATF received over 17,000 public comments regarding its proposal, but of the 4,200 reviewed by the news agency, only 10 favored the bump stock ban. “Almost all the rest criticized the proposal as heavy-handed, unnecessary or unconstitutional.”
However, one prominent gun-rights group was conspicuously absent from the opposition — the National Rifle Association. According to Fox News, the NRA said it believes “devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”
“In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved,” the NRA said. “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.”
Interestingly, only three years ago the NRA stood alongside other pro-gun groups such as the GOA and the Firearms Policy Coalition in opposing an Obama era effort to ban M855 ammunition, a common cartridge for the AR-15. The proposal was widely regarded as an indirect way of banning the AR-15 by depriving gun owners of ammo.
In a 2016 statement, the NRA opposed renewed efforts to ban the cartridge. Ironically enough, the association concluded their statement with this: We’ve said it before, gun control advocates are counting on American voters to have short memories this November. If you don’t want more of the same, choose wisely and vote freedom first.”
What adds insult to injury on a proposed bump stock ban is that Trump isn’t even going through Congress to essentially enact a law, as constitutionally required. An unconstitutional measure is being enacted by unconstitutional means.
Those who might be inclined to defend Trump on this should note that his actions only give credence to the belief that it doesn’t matter who is in the White House when it comes to gun rights. Is this any different from what Hillary Clinton might have done?
While gun groups that have consistently stood firm against federal gun control should be applauded, the fact is the NRA is the most popular and largest in terms of spending and membership, with a strong lobbying presence in D.C. Moreover, it is often used as the “bogeyman” for gun grabbers and the de facto voice of America’s gun owners. Despite its reputation, the NRA has repeatedly supported illegal gun control measures since the 1930s.
American gun owners should not rely solely on any advocacy group to protect their rights. The best approach is to have state, regional and local governments refuse to cooperate with the feds on these policies or provide them with any resources.
The federal government seems to keep passing whatever laws it wants, but without state assistance and cooperation, it will have a herculean task enforcing them. We should push for this form of nullification regardless of what any pro-gun group says about it.
It is the recommendation of founding fathers such as James Madison, and it’s an approach that has worked against other unconstitutional federal laws such as marijuana prohibition.