Yet another state has jumped on the bandwagon of passing legislation as a knee-jerk reaction in response to singular events. Lest Vermont and California hog all the progressive glory, Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy signed a bump stock ban Thursday, May 31.
Nigh unheard of in the popular media before Stephen Paddock made them famous, bump stocks are the new boogie man for those on the left – and even some on the right. Do these accessories turn semi-automatic weapons into full-autos? Of course not. Do they make more bullets come out of the gun in less time – almost as if it were full-auto? Absolutely, though there is room for operator error.
Most importantly, is banning them either Constitutional or effective? Like all the other “common sense” gun reforms, of course not.
What are Bump Stocks?
Bump Stocks are accessories that attach to the butt end of a long gun to increase the rate of fire by using the recoil to move the weapon itself to meet the trigger finger, which is held still. When done properly, this increases the rate of fire considerably higher than a human finger could move.
Why Ban Them?
This is a knee-jerk reaction. It’s based entirely in the emotional response to mass murder and not one bit in the consistent application of logical reasoning, and it’s based mostly in fear. Even many who would normally be staunch defenders of the Second Amendment jump at this chance to make a change – any change – that might save lives, or at least save votes by granting the illusion of meaningful action. Politicians are grasping for straws, and a bump stock ban just happens to be one that resonates with the right people.
Banning bump stocks because one guy used them to kill people is no different from banning semi-automatic weapons – or guns in general. Either way, you’re banning the tool rather than addressing the actions of the user. If you wonder at the inconsistency of the logic applied to the reasoning that bump stocks should be banned, but guns, in general, shouldn’t, then don’t. Aside from the fear reaction, the vast droves of leftists behind this ban absolutely do want to completely disarm the citizenry. So for them, there’s nothing inconsistent about it; they just don’t want to blow their chances by laying all their cards on the table.
Is It Constitutional?
There are two ways to look at the Second Amendment. There’s the rule as written and the rule as intended – those aren’t legal terms, mind you, just two different ways of looking at any law. The first is easy enough to decipher, despite generations of would-be tyrants proposing otherwise. It’s actually written quite plainly.
The rule as intended takes a little more work, but if you’re willing to read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution with Bill of Rights, and the various correspondences and speeches of the Founders at the time, it’s easily understood as well.
Everyone has the right to life and liberty, which means everyone has both the right and responsibility to protect their own lives and liberties. The militia was always meant to be the people as a whole, armed and well trained, who would prevent the government from falling into tyranny.
The rest of the intent is clear from the wording of the amendment itself. The right of the people – that’s all people – to keep and bear arms – that’s any arms available – shall not be infringed – in any way. You’ll notice I added a bit there. Don’t worry, they’re present – even if you don’t see the words – because of what’s not there. There is no “except clause” limiting any of those three parts of the right to keep and bear arms.
So, is a bump stock ban constitutional? By the letter of the law, yes. Bump stocks are not arms. They are accessories. They are not functioning weapons without their firearms, and they are not required to make any other weapon operable. To say that the letter of the law protects bump stocks, we would have to argue that we intend to use them as standalone weapons – some form of bludgeoning device, for example.
A ban does violate the idea behind the rule, which is that the peoples should have access to weapons to match any military force that might attempt to suppress them. Can we argue based on intent rather than explicit word use, though? I certainly do. And the left does too. It’s their erroneous interpretation of the intent behind the law that has justified every piece of firearms regulation to date.
But if we must argue based only on the explicit wording, I can live with that too. Bump stocks only exist because of another set of laws that absolutely violates the exact wording of the Second Amendment and the intent behind it. Any ban on fully automatic weapons presumes there’s some except clause on the type of arms we’re allowed. There isn’t.
Want to trade bump stocks for machine guns? It isn’t perfect, but I’ll take that deal and call it a win.
Will It Be Effective?
We know that plenty of Americans want to ban these accessories – either because they fear them and don’t know what else to do or because they want to eventually disarm the people entirely – and we know that there are those who don’t care about what the Constitution says. So for those people, there is still one question to ask. Will the bump stock ban actually stop mass shootings and save lives?
The answer should be obvious by now. Of course it won’t. Not only will banning bump stocks not prevent shootings, but this law won’t even prevent shootings with incredibly high rates of fire. Bump stocks aren’t the only items – nor even the most effective – that simulate automatic fire.
Even if the law reaches all “rate of fire enhancements,” it only makes buying and selling a Class D felony. Under this law they can’t come after what you already own, and therefore can’t prevent someone from using a bump stock that is already legally owned in an illegal manner.
And that’s the true failing of bans. Outlawing currently legal items is pointless. Otherwise legal or not, the moment an item is used to kill another person outside of a defensive situation, it becomes an instrument of crime. Those who aren’t prevented from committing murder by the rather strict laws against it certainly won’t mind using a prohibited item as their instrument of crime.