Bump Stocks: An admission that “Acting” AG Whitaker’s signature wasn’t valid

Barr’s history on gun control makes this no great surprise.

New AG rubber stamps illegal bump stock rule change
Scheduled to be published on March 14th, newly appointed U.S. Attorney General William Barr will ratify a final rule from the ATF that determined bump stocks to be a “machine gun”.

This reaffirmation is in response to a federal lawsuit challenging then acting Attorney General Whitaker’s unconstitutional appointment to the position, who originally ratified the final rule.

Clearly, the government felt their defense of Whitaker’s validity was weak (which, having read the laws, I knew). They hope to walk into court and say, “That’s part’s moot Your Honor; the confirmed Attorney General signed it, too.”

But they just opened up another can of worms. Whitaker signed the rule on December 18, 2018. The rule — which the government just effectively admitted wasn’t valid — was officially published in the Federal Register on December 26.

Current possessors of bump-stock-type devices will have until the effective date of the rule (90 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register) to comply.

If Barr has to sign it again to shut down arguments over the validity, it has to be republished in the Register again, now that it has finally been “properly” signed.

And that resets the countdown clock.

So publish it, as now scheduled on March 14, 2019, and start the new 90 day countdown, with a new deadline of June 13, 2019. In accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act.

Quislings Defending Vichy NRA

The Vichy NRA appears to be in full damage control mode as people read the ATF’s final bump-fire stock rule, and realize just how badly the group screwed over gun owners.

This is a bit longer than my usual blog posts, so I’ll give you a TL;DR:

For three consecutive days, columns have been published defending the NRA’s bump-fire fiasco. In all three cases, it is the same refrain we heard after NFA, GCA, FOPA, Brady, Constitutional Carry, and all the rest: It isn’t our fault. And it would have been worse if we hadn’t done it. We derailed legislation that would have banned more. Except the bump-stock-type device (BSTD) rule can be applied to all the devices the NRA claims to have protected, and makes every semiauto in existence “easily converted to a machinegun,” and subject to a post-FOPA ban. And it didn’t even derail any legislation

Keep reading and I’ll address the points made by Marion Hammer, Duane Liptak, and Tom knighton, and explain — yet again — what I mean by that.

Continue reading

Yep, Jerry the Geek is a “Fudd”

This is a bit longish, but I hope you’ll read it. It’s pretty damned important; especially for naive types who haven’t kept up with Trump’s proposed bump-fire stock ban.

It’s more, far more.

Bumpstock Ban
My opinion counts for very little, and that’s because I’m a “FUDD” when it comes to Bumpstocks.

Oh, what’s a Fudd? That’s a pejorative term aimed at shooters who only care about hunting. Deer, Elk, Quail, Lions … or Skeet, Trap, etc. it doesn’t matter; as long as the Feds don’t mess with their gun sport, they could care less about any other 2nd Amendment issues. (It’s actually defined in the Urban Dictionary.)

It surprised me to learn that I was a FUDD, but actually I have no use for a Bump Stock (spelling varies). While I’ve written about the issue before, I find I can’t get all that worked up about it. I mean, who needs a Bump Stock?

At that point, I hoped I was reading satire.

On the other hand, who needs an M15? (semi-automatic version of the M16 Assault Rifle … which unlike the M16 is NOT capable of “Selective fire”). I don’t own an M15, because I have no use for it.

The point is, most people think there is no difference between the M15 (semi-auto only) and the M15 (capable of full auto fire), and so the CIVILIAN M15 is denigrated almost as vigorously as the M15.

M-15? The more common term for the civilian semiautomatic variants of the Colt AR-15 is… AR-15. Or — as I tend to use AR-pattern. Calling the class “M15” tends to confuse it with the military assault rifle “M-16” (which JtG proceeds to do by managing to call both “M15”.

There are various bloggers describing the future consequences of banning “attachments” and “modifications”. One of the most popular is:

Suppose you lighten the trigger pull on your firearm. Is that to become an illegal alteration?

Mr. Geek needs to read the NPRM. It specific cites “increase the rate of fire of semiautomatic firearms” as the reason for considering bump-fire stocks to be machineguns.

And he should be paying attention to federal and state legislation (some passed) that ban not only bump-fire device, but also cranks and anything that else that “increase the rate of fire of semiautomatic firearms”. That is, anything that helps you work the trigger quickly (cranks, practice) or improves the action to allow it to operate quicker. One judge, in considering one of the newly passed state laws, noted that it would appear to include gun oil.

When the ATF becomes involved in nuances of equipment to otherwise legal firearms, it may be that they are over-reaching their mandate.

Or I may be wrong; perhaps that is precisely their “mandate”.

By executive order, the President directed DOJ to take action against bump-fire stocks. AG Sessions then issued a memorandum to the ATF to begin the regulatory process to make bump-fire stocks “machineguns.”

Yes, it’s their mandate. Where the hell have you been since October 2017?

They are exceeding — by Presidential direction — the law, which already defines “machinegun,” to the exclusion of bump-fire stocks. A machinegun must discharge more than one cartridge with a single manual operation of the trigger.

Bump-fire stocks channel recoil energy to help people operate the trigger — one round per trigger op — a little quicker and easily, without bothering with Miculek-level practice.

And that is precisely why the NPRM starts with a lie about how bump-fire stocks operate.

The Department of Justice (Department) proposes to amend the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives regulations to clarify that “bump fire” stocks, slide-fire devices, and devices with certain similar characteristics (bump-stock-type devices) are “machineguns” as defined by the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) and the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA), because such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger.

Pay attention, Jerry T. Fudd.

That’s not the only lie in the NPRM, Jerry. Remember “rate of fire of semiautomatic firearms from a single trigger pull”? That, Fudd, is bullshit.

In an actual machinegun, “rate of fire” (or cyclic rate of fire) is how fast it discharges rounds while the trigger is held back. Pull trigger, hold trigger down, round discharges, action is cycled (whether by recoil, gas-diversion, or an electric motor), and another round fires. “Rate of fire” is usually expressed in rounds per minute (RPM), and is determined by the physical design of the firearm. In recoil or gas cycled machineguns, it’s determined by the physics of the design: mass/inertia of bolt and springs, amount of energy applied.

In a semiautomatic firearm, there is no actual rate of fire. Pull trigger, discharge round, action cycles next round into place, and … nothing. How fast that happens, as in machineguns, is determined by the physics of the gun. The shooter — the person operating the firearm — must manually allow the trigger to reset, and then manually operate the trigger again.

The only way to get the “rate of fire” of a semiauto is to factor in the how fast the shooter can operate the trigger in succession. This NPRM is about devices. It’s about how fast you can pull the trigger.

As I, and a great many other people, have noted, this rule would make Jerry Miculek an NFA firearm.

But, Fudd, I’ll tell you another secret: Bump-fire stocks don’t increase the rate at which the rifle can be fired.

“But, but… everyone knows they fire fast like machineguns! They must speed it up,” idiots — like the ATF — exclaim.

WRONG. Let me repeat: In a semiautomatic firearm, there is no actual rate of fire. Pull, trigger, discharge round, action cycles next round into place, and … nothing. How fast that happens, as in machineguns, is determined by the pahysics of the gun. The shooter — the person operating the firearm — must manually allow the trigger to reset, and then manually operate the trigger again.

How fast the rifle can potentially be manually fired is inherent in the design physics mass, inertia, energy.

What bump-fire stocks do is free-float so that bled-off recoil energy moves the rifle away from the trigger finger, allowing the trigger to be reset, and allows the shooter to manually (this is why the Akins Accelerator, with a return spring, wasn’t allowed) move the rifle forward again so the finger can again engage the trigger.

Shooting Speed: mass, inertia, energy.

Bump-fire bleeds off energy. That slows it down.

Someone who could pull the trigger fast enough to max out the cycle of a rifle without a bump-fire stock would achieve the theoretical “potential rate of fire.” The same gun, with bump-fire stock installed, loses energy, and thus has a lower theoretical “potential rate of fire.”

So Fudd, bump-fire doesn’t work the way the feds claim, it can’t accomplish what they claim. They lied. Repeatedly.* Why do you think they wrote that NPRM?

What it does is get the idea on the books that, “Fast is bad; we can regulate anything based on how arbitrarily fast it is. Too “fast,” it’s a machinegun. Made after May 1986. Turn it in or go to prison.”

Tell me, Jerry. Do you ever hunt or target shoot with a semiautomatic firearm? Is it possible for it to fire “too fast”?

How fast is “too fast,” you — and I — might wonder.

It’s undefined. Arbitrary. Like so much from the ATF Technical Branch, it’s…

Whatever the fuck they want it to be, and subject to subjective change. The better to fuck you over. Please recall that even the Akins Accelerator was approved before it was unapproved. Twice.

And if you don’t understand that it’s deliberate, you’re a fool.

When the commenting period on the NPRM opened in March, comments made on the published document vanished. “Comments not accepted“. Hundreds of comments disappeared.

Only after a series of complaints to the OIG, did the ATF open a new NPRM document which would accept comments. But they left the original document up, with no redirect to the working document, and no simple way to learn there even was a new document.

Only after more OIG complaints did the comments from the “dead” document appear on the new document. At which point they could be seen; there were actually thousands of comments, almost exclusively negative.

They lied, and they tried to game the system to prevent negative comments.

* Lie, or wild-ass guess? Also from the NPRM:

On October 1, 2017, a shooter attacked a large crowd attending an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, Nevada. By using several AR-type rifles with attached bump-stock-type devices, the shooter was able to fire several hundred rounds of ammunition in a short period of time, killing 58 people and injuring over 800.

In fact, it has never been stated by anyone — local or federal — with the investigation that bump-fire stocks were used. Only that they were present. No ballistics data has been released which would tie a bump-fire stocked weapon to any casualty. The only firearm the investigation has publicly said — officially or unofficially — was actually used was the revolver with which the murderer suicided.

Very early on, someone in the investigation did tell reporters that at least one rifle converted to be fully automatic had been found, in addition to bump-fire stocked rifles.

It’s also worth noting that FOIA data dumps produced documentation showing the the ATF was NOT ALLOWED to examine any of the firearms from the Mandalay Bay shooting.

Whoa! Would you look at that.

Back in June, the Firearms Policy Coalition submitted a 932 page comment to the ATF’s proposed rule to ban bump-fire stocks. I was impressed. I read some of it, but never waded through all the attached exhibits.

So I missed something until today.

I just found a new Internet search engine and decided to test it by doing an ego-search on my name. One hit looked a little odd, so I checked the page, but still didn’t see why a search on my name turned that up. I did a text search on the page and found this:

Cool! I had no idea that FPC had cited me. I am honored that FPC thought my column was a worthy addition to their work.

Thank you!

ATTN: Bump-Fire Stock Owners, Sellers, Manufacturers, Distributors

From the Firearms Policy Coalition:

If you know of anyone who manufactures, distributes, sells, bought, owns, or possesses a “bump-stock” type device, or you/they did manufacture, distribute, or sell “bump-stock” devices but no longer do because of the ATF’s proposed ban, they should contact the Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) Legal Action Hotline at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/hotline AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. FPC and Firearms Policy Foundation have retained Firearms Industry Consulting Group attorneys to oppose the ATF’s unconstitutional and unlawful proposed ban on these devices. If the ATF’s proposed rule goes into effect, it would require the destruction of all such devices, nation-wide, or a possessor might face federal felony criminal penalties and the loss of rights. For more information on FPC and FPF’s efforts to oppose the ATF’s proposed “bump-stock” ban, please see “FPC/FPF Opposition to ATF’s Proposed Ban on Bump-Stock-Type Devices (docket no. 2017R-22)” at https://www.firearmspolicy.org/fpc-fpf-opposition-atf-bump-stock-ban.

Bump-Stock-Type Devices Proposed Rulemaking

In case you haven’t commented on the proposed rule to ban bump-fire stocks, you should. Currently victim disarmers seem to be trying to flood the system with pro-ban comments.

Comment Here. Comments are due by June 27, 2018, at 11:59 PM ET.

You might consider something along these lines:

I oppose any rule redefining bump-stock-type devices (BSTD) as machineguns or any other type of firearm.

1. The description of how and what BSTDs do is grossly incorrect. While they assist in trigger reset, each shot fired still requires a separate operation of the trigger.

2. BSTDs do not increase the theoretical maximum rate of fire. In fact, since they bleed off recoil energy in order to assist in trigger reset, they can DECREASE the theoretical maximum rate of fire.

3. The The description of how and what BSTDs do conflicts with existing legislation defining machineguns (multiple rounds fired per operation of the trigger) as each round fired still requires manual operation of the trigger.

4. The rule is unenforceable: a) with no grandfathering it violates the Fifth Amendment as a taking without just compensation, b) no one knows how many BSTDs there are or where they are making confiscation without further Fifth Amendment violations impossible, c) the language is so vague that it would apply to any semiautomatic firearm that can be held in the non-firing hand (any semiautomatic firearm that can be so held can be bump-fired).

5. MILLER defined weapons which may be banned/regulated as those that are not in common military use; if a firearm with a BSTD is suddenly a “machinegun” — which are in common military use, they are protected under the SCOTUS MILLER decision, opening the ATF to lawsuits. You really don’t want to go there.

Welcome to the party, pal

Gun Owners of America finally notices the semiauto problem with bump-fire bans, and the crowd — finally — goes wild.

Let me tell you about a little-known pro-RKBA group. While GOA ignored this until a couple of weeks ago (when I started getting fundraising emails mentioning bump-fire stocks), and the National Restrictions Rifle Association actively pushed for it, The Zelman Partisans has been trying to warn you.

For months.

  • The Zelman Partisans Statement on Proposed Legislation to Ban “Bump-Fire Stocks” and other accessories. (October 5, 2017)
    Basically this Constitution-shredding Senator wants to redefine “machine gun” by how fast you can make something fire, rather than being designed to fire automatically as long as the trigger is depressed. Apparently Jerry Miculek is going to be outlawed.
  • Training Wheels (October 25, 2017)
    That is incorrect. An automatic weapon — a machinegun — is designed to fire multiple rounds per trigger operation. Bump-fire stocks in no way affect that operation/rounds relationship. If you put a bump-fire stock on a semiautomatic rifle, you still individually operate the trigger for each round fired. Bump-fire stocks don’t make the weapon fire faster. The theoretical rate of fire of the rifle is determined by the physics of the internal parts.
  • The fix is in: proposed rulemaking on bump-fire
    Instead of looking at mechanical function, and simple physics, in this document the ATF has adopted the media and gun controller definition of “if it’s fast, it must be a machinegun.” The intent is preordained regardless of comments.
  • Commenting Now Open: Application of the Definition of Machinegun to “Bump Fire” Stocks and Other Similar Devices. (December 29, 2017)
    Considering bump-fire stocks, and other accessories, to be machineguns would not simply regulate a physical device. It effectively outlaws the bump-fire TECHNIQUE, and even pulling the trigger faster than some arbitrary threshold.
  • That’ll be our first one-term president in a while (February 20, 2018)
    I wish I could be surprised, but even before Trump began to look like a serious candidate– well before he got the R nomination — I warned that his new-found verbal respect for RKBA was belied by a long anti-RKBA history.
  • “Stroke of the pen, law of the land. Kinda cool.”* (February 26, 2018)
    “Machinegun” is defined in statutory law. Short form: a firearm that fires more than one round per trigger operation.If that can be changed by executive order, instead of congressional legislation, then everything is a machinegun waiting for the pen-stroke.What can he — would he — do with that pen?
  • Screw Physical Reality (March 10, 2018)
    If words having meaning, this is impossible without making every semiautomatic firearm an NFA item. Please note that this redefines machinegun without offering any grace period or grandfathering for existing gear.
  • Bump-fire Banned (March 23, 2018)
    And yes; The Zelman Partisans opposes this. Accepting this is in no way a compromise. We did not get reciprocal carry. We did get a dangerous Fix NICS. And this isn’t a merely bump-fire ban; it’s effectively a ban on semiautomatic firearms (and if you think Feinstein, Schumer et al aren’t aware of that, you weren’t paying attention): parts is parts.
  • Bumping Off the Truth (March 25, 2018)
    As noted on Friday, President Trump and AG Sessions announced a coming ban of bump-fire stocks (“bump-stock-type devices,” as the rule notice so eloquently puts it); no grandfathering, get rid of it or go to prison for possession of an unregistered NFA item.
  • Theoretically Speaking (March 28, 2018)
    In every case, bump-fire stocks (and trigger cranks and “Multi-burst Trigger Activators”) are bad merely because they assist the shooter in approaching the firearm’s inherent theoretical maximum rate of fire. The semiautomatic rate of fire is the problem.Take away the bump-fire stock, crank, or multi-burp shoulder thingy, and the evil — to the gun ban bunnies — rate of fire remains.
    Does anyone reading this honestly doubt that establishing the precedent of the theoretical rate of fire being the problem is exactly what they want?
  • “Bump-Stock-Type Devices” (sic) Commenting Now Open (March 29, 2018)
    The NPRM falsely states: “Specifically, these devices convert an otherwise semiautomatic firearm into a machinegun by functioning as a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism that harnesses the recoil energy of the semiautomatic firearm in a manner that allows the trigger to reset and continue firing without additional physical manipulation of the trigger by the shooter. Hence, a semiautomatic firearm to which a bump-stock-type device is attached is able to produce automatic fire with a single pull of the trigger.”
  • Bump Stocks Matter: Banning Semiautomatic Firearms (April 2, 2018)
    If this were a move to specifically ban bump-fire stocks or trigger cranks on product safety grounds (unstable, inaccurate, etc.) you’d see a lot less opposition to it. But if you read the language of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking [NPRM] (and every submitted bill I’ve tracked down so far), that isn’t what is being addressed. It is clearly and explicitly a “problem” of “rate of fire,” in that these devices — training wheels — assist the shooter in merely approaching the semiautomatic firearm’s theoretical rate of fire. (In the case of bump-fire, by using recoil to let the trigger reset, for the next manual operation.)

That’s a partial listing. You can find more.

You know what else “increases” the rate of fire? The breechloading Ferguson Rifle. Pre-measured paper cartridges. Revolvers. Bolt/lever action rifles with magazines. Slicked bolts and polished trigger groups. New springs.

Anything that improves the action.

Might I suggest joining the one pro-RKBA group that has consistently warned of, and opposed, these bans other others ignored, under-stated, or even supported them?