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Op-Ed: Bump stock regulations could make felons of 500,000 law-abiding gun owners

An example of a firearm with a bump stock. (Free Use)

From time to time, a caller to Gun Owners of America will ask:  “Who cares about bump stocks?”

Fair question.

Let’s start with roughly two dozen employees of SlideFire – located in a Texas community that was revitalized through the pursuit of a lawful business. Their livelihoods have now been stripped from them by protestors whose ultimate aim is the elimination of every single American firearm.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

If the proposed ATF regulation banning bump stocks is finalized, every single bump stock in America will immediately become a “machine gun.” And the more than 500,000 bump stock owners will become instant felons; no grace period – no grandfather clause. Simply 500,000 instant felons, all subject to $250,000 fines and 10-year prison terms.  

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These hundreds of thousands bump stock owners will be processed into prison at the same time that “sentencing reform” will be securing the release of drug cartel members whose incarceration is no longer regarded as politically correct.  

And the fact is that characterizing a piece of plastic (a bump stock) as a “machine gun” is based on a lie. Even the Obama Administration recognized that bump-firing results in the release of a single round for each operation of the trigger. This is the statutory definition of a semi-automatic [18 U.S.C. 921(a)(31)]. To be an automatic, bump-firing would have to result in the discharge of multiple rounds as a result of a single function of the trigger [26 U.S.C. 5845(b)]. And this is not the case.

So bottom line:  “Gun controllers lie; gun owners fry.”

America has had its share of anti-gun presidents.  But even the Clinton semi-automatic ban, as odious as it was, did not seek to confiscate pre-existing semi-automatics and turn their owners into serious felons.  

In this sense, the Trump regulations would attack guns in a way that is unprecedented in American history – something that even Lyndon Johnson, Bill Clinton or Barack Obama did not contemplate.  

But this is not even the worst news: If a bump stock is erroneously deemed as causing an AR-15 to engage in full automatic fire, then the AR-15 is a fully-automatic firearm.  

It is a full automatic while it is firing automatically. But even AR-15s, which have never touched a bump stock, could now be regarded as being capable of being “readily restored” or “converted” to full automatic fire. This is the definition of a machine gun under 26 U.S.C. 5845(b). And this means that the inexorable implication of the Trump regulation is that AR-15s and every other semi-automatic rifle that can accept a bump stock would also be a full automatic.

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We’re no longer talking about a mere 500,000 felons now.  

Twenty million semi-automatic rifle owners would become immediate felons. Ten years in prison. Again, with no grace period, no grandfather clause – nothing.    

We understand why Trump is doing what he’s doing.

But we in the Second Amendment community also have an obligation that involves “speaking truth to power.” And gun owners can do that by going here and filing their own comments with the ATF in opposition to their proposed regulations.

We can’t stay silent, or else we will surely deserve the anti-gun dystopia that we inherit.

Michael Hammond is the Legislative Counsel for Gun Owners of America, a grassroots lobby organization representing 1.5 million gun owners.

All opinion articles are the opinion of the author and not necessarily of American Military News. If you are interested in submitting an Op-Ed, please email [email protected]