Approximately one week ago, a 6th Circuit federal court in Michigan “blocked” the bump stock ban issued by the ATF in 2018 by a 2-1 ruling. While on the surface this is wonderful news for the constitution, sanity, the English language, justice, and Americans alike, it is also, as they say, just scratching the surface. Allow me to dive in and review the story, then outline all the issues this has either brought to light anew (for many), or reiterated:
- Let us begin with explaining to those unfamiliar what, exactly, a bump stock actually is. It IS a two-piece system that allows for recoil from the weapon to facilitate movement of the weapon itself, “bumping” the trigger into your finger (the weapon slides within the stock), allowing for a rate of fire comparable to automatic weapons. It IS NOT a firearm. Given that second point – that it is, in and of itself, just two pieces of plastic, neither of which can ever actually even physically touch a loaded round – defining is as a “machine gun” is 100% the equivalent of me defining a grapefruit as a “machine gun” because I zip-tied a grapefruit to my rifle butt to pad my shoulder, allowing for a little padding and give which could potentially increase my rate of fire as I’m more comfortable with my awesome citrus recoil pad. Even the people who rewrote and enforced this definition know this, but that didn’t stop them from doing it, because if there is one unifying theme of government officials – elected or appointed – it is “hypocrisy”.
- As covered by so many outlets when this insanity first became law, it remains extremely important to clarify exactly how this became “law”. Very simply, the ATF redefined words in the English language to add an entirely new meaning to an existing law, reaching far into the land of the nonexistent to ban something whilst circumventing the entire constitutional process of legislating laws into existence. The ATF simply redefined the words “machine gun”. This is probably a common practice in American government (there are far more agencies than most even know exist, and they all get to write “regulations” and define terms any way they want without real accountability or oversight), and it’s infinitely dangerous, because it is one of the few ways in which government is extremely overt about its tyranny – the people who run these agencies are appointed as opposed to elected, hire whomever they want, and can do anything without accountability to the American people.
If tomorrow the ATF rewrote the definition of “machine gun” to include automatic-firing paintball guns, NERF weapons, and DIY “weapons” that fire various objects, the only recourse the American people would have is identical to that undertaken by Gun Owners of America (GOA), the Cato Institute, and the others that filed lawsuits against the US government. However, in the interim, that would not help you, and until those lawsuits were heard – if they were heard – you would be a felon for owning your NERF blaster and your cool DIY potato gun that got you a million views on YouTube. The fact is that, effectively, laws in America do not need to go through any kind of legislative process or review, but can be created, erased (ha!), or modified with a single pen-stroke by an individual 99.99% of Americans have never even heard of. The possession of bump stocks was ultimately made a federal felony by some nameless clown on a computer hitting ‘backspace’ a few times and then saying an apple was an orange, almost immediately making at least a few hundred thousand innocent Americans into felons.
- As an aside, this is just another modern American example of the Orwellian redefining of already-well-defined language. “Stock” (the part of a rifle that is tucked against your body and contains ~1-10 parts) can now apparently mean “entire weapon with ~100 parts required to function properly”. This is much in the same way that “woman” can now mean “an adult with XY chromosomes, a penis, functional testes, no uterus, no ovaries, and all biological markers of a male”. This issue, which Orwell famously outlined to perfection, is an issue for another article and another day.
- The proclaimed reasoning behind the bump stock ban was that it allowed for “an automatic rate of fire”, which somehow makes it more lethal. Which is funny, considering that even the US military (among others) teaches against firing full-auto in almost all scenarios (aside from certain instances of cover fire or at very close range) because they know what every shooter knows – that firing a rifle on full-auto is ridiculously inaccurate and a great way to plow through all your ammo in seconds while causing minimal damage because you can barely hit a wall, which then necessitates more reloads and obviously depletes ammo supply faster all while doing very little to stop the enemy. Full auto is the enemy of accurate and lethal firearms use unless you are mere feet from a wall of enemies (which is pretty unlikely), and anyone who has familiarity with firearms will tell you as much immediately. The entire proclaimed basis of this ban was a ridiculous lie playing on movie tropes and exploiting the lack of overall firearms knowledge in America, leveraged against a tragedy committed by a single madman, who, for the record, could have done exponentially more damage by planting a couple homemade bombs on the site, which would have been a cinch and made with products bought at a Lowe’s home improvement store. If the guy wanted to commit a massacre, pretending guns are the sole enabling methodology is preposterous. I will drive that home, hard, by asking just how many guns were involved in the hijacking of four airplanes on September 11th, 2001, or how many guns were used when terrorists killed 191 people and injured another 2,050 on trains in Spain back in 2004. Any lone individual(s) that set on killing many people does not require a gun of any kind.
- Given the fact that full-auto fire is wildly inaccurate beyond extremely close range, firing with a bump stock is considerably less accurate given that the rifle is moving independently of the stock, so not only is it an endless cascade of recoil and muzzle climb (the barrel rises continuously during full-auto fire without a lot of effort), but the “front” and “back” of the gun are not even moving together. This is, legitimately, about as inaccurate as a fully functional properly zeroed rifle can be set up.
- This was just decided by a 3-justice 6th Circuit court after a 10th Circuit court declined to hear the case just this month, and the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear it after the DC Circuit Court also declined to give it a day in court. How can we trust a justice system that allows for someone to say “this potato is a mako shark” and when someone points out the absurdly obvious “Uh, no, it isn’t”, every appellate court turns their backs and starts whistling as they slowly walk out of the room and pretend to be admiring the ceiling art? Why does it take more than two years and ricocheting through a pile of courts to get one that is willing to listen to one of the easiest cases in the history of spoken language? And why, even then, is there one justice that can state with a straight face that a car is – in fact – a saxophone made of feta cheese? There can be no question that the justice system as a whole is not just detached from the Constitution, but from objective reality and the English language.
- Continuing with the theme of grossly misusing language with specific intention, almost all the stories I have encountered covering this recent ruling refer to the bump stock ban as “blocked”. Well, as an expert in the English language, who is capable of reading a dictionary definition, please, allow me! According to Dictionary.com, the definition of “block” as a verb is “to obstruct” or “to act so as to obstruct an opponent”. Examples of the word “blocked” in the English language might include such sentences as “The basketball player blocked that shot attempt”, or “The security guard blocked the door to the bank”. By definition, “to block” means “to prevent something from surpassing an obstacle”. You cannot block something after it has happened. If Dikembe Mutombo “blocked” all those shots after the basketball had gone through the basket, he would not have been a very good defensive player at all. If a security guard “blocks” someone from entering the club after they are inside the club, that does not make a lot of sense to anyone who speaks English.
So, why, pray tell, is everyone talking about “blocking” legislation that has been in full effect for over two years? What are we blocking? That’s like blocking someone’s execution after it happened! “Oh, whoops, you were innocent, if I yell the word “blocked” you’ll magically arise out of that coffin and all will be well!”, said nobody ever who wasn’t on a lot of psychedelic drugs or writing this article to make you realize how obscene this deconstruction of English is. To those of you who would cry “semantics”, I would refer you to your nearest attorney, who will very quickly tell you that everything from legislation to billion-dollar contracts to class-action lawsuits to divorce cases regularly hinge on the precise wording utilized in the official language, legislation, or contract at hand. It may be semantics, but it is also how this all works. And this brings me to my next point, which nobody is discussing….
I’m very glad to hear this idiotic bump stock ruling was finally heard and overturned, but, it doesn’t matter for two reasons, namely that it will be overturned again (i.e. the ban reinstated), and because of Point #8, namely that it’s too late. Anyone who handed in or destroyed their bump stock cannot get it back. Slide Fire died and is out of business, with millions of lost revenue dollars in addition to a likely massive loss given whatever they had spent on design work, patents, machinery, manufacturing, distribution, and all the other costs that constitute entrepreneurship. Despite horribly molesting the constitution, circumventing every bit of democracy or representative legislation, and snappishly declaring half a million law-abiding ethical Americans to be horrible criminals, there will be no ramifications whatsoever for a single person or entity involved, per usual. The only ones who suffer and lose are the American citizens (subjects, really), as they do every time anyone in government so much as opens their mouth or brandishes a pen.
- Let us pretend for just one moment that this “block” will stand – which it won’t, because I’ll bet my teeth all the courts who rejected it when the anti-firearms crowd was winning suddenly are happy to hear this appeal so they can overturn the overturning of the initial ruling. But, hey, if politicians and federal justices get to live in a fantasy realm, I think we can for a few minutes, too!
I have questions.
For starters, who will reimburse the Air Force veteran who created Slide Fire, the company that invented the bump stock as we know it today, never did anything wrong, made good on the American dream purely with hard work, ingenuity, and sacrifice, and was body-slammed into bankruptcy by this ludicrous abrogation of our legislative process, 2nd Amendment rights, 5th Amendment rights (there was absolutely no due process), and perhaps even 4th Amendment rights since they’d have been raided as federal felons had they not closed up shop without probable cause since the “law” itself violated the 5th Amendment? Slide Fire never hurt anybody – if we are to claim they hurt people, Toyota is responsible for all people who die in car accidents involving a Toyota, which is literally a magnitude more dead people than are killed with rifles in the US; by that same token, God/Mother Nature are directly responsible for all those who have ever drowned in the sea, and it’s time to kill God or pollute the oceans as much as possible and burn the earth. I hope that sufficiently expresses the sheer stupidity of the claim that a manufacturer is responsible for how their product is ultimately used. In the 2007 film “Shoot ‘Em Up”, Clive Owen’s protagonist kills someone with a carrot – is it time we ban vegetables and bomb produce farms, too?
Slide Fire is a company that imagined and created a product that consumers wanted, by all accounts never did wrong by their customers, was perfectly ethical in creating a range toy that’s fun and so useless in a fight that it’s actively detrimental to rifle lethality especially at the kind of range it was used in the instance at the crux of this ban….and then got crucified and run out of business by the might of the federal authoritarian oligarchy. If this “block” were to stand…who will reimburse Slide Fire? Who will make up all that money in lost revenue over the last couple years? In modern society, if you get injured or financially damaged by a company’s negligence, lost wages are part of the ensuing lawsuit and are often paid out – it is, in fact, one of the larger pieces of the equation in personal injury or medical malpractice cases, including theoretical future lost wages. So who will reimburse Slide Fire? Either nobody – in which case Slide Fire has been robbed – or “the government”, which actually means “all the taxpaying people of the United States”.
So, the folks at Slide Fire get robbed, or we get robbed. Either way, like every other political and legislative question in existence, the sum is the same: The people lose, and the government loses nothing.
- Another aside, and another article for another day, but just some food for thought, but I really want to drive the point home: This truly is how all political equations go. First the government does something appalling, that places an undue burden or punitive measure on the people. Then, it’s challenged, and either the people lose and continue suffering under the new rules, or the people “win” and the government generally continues punishing all those who were prosecuted while the rules were in place (like all the current prisoners in America who are there because they had some weed in states where it’s now legal), or the court actually finds the government in the wrong and demands they reimburse the American people, which the government then does…..with the money they stole from the American people. No matter how you spin it, the American people lose, and the government does not lose. Every single time. The solution to this is to hold individual legislators accountable for such things – if they voted for the garbage law, they should be removed from office and personally held accountable using their own financial resources. But that’s never going to happen, of course, and further discussion is another topic for another day.
- Given the nature of how this law was changed, what’s to stop any politician from phoning an agency and saying “Hey, change the definition of X” so they can manipulate literally anything in America to their personal and/or professional benefit, or take out a particular opponent or outspoken voice? Who cares if it’s preposterous and gets overturned after bouncing around the courts for two years, when the damage inflicted is immediate and long-lasting? If someone had been arrested and imprisoned for owning a bump stock, does anyone really think he’d suddenly be let out once that ruling came down overturning the ban? Does anyone think his record would be expunged, or his life return to normal? How could anything make up for years away from a family that may have fallen apart as a result of his felony conviction and imprisonment? None of it would matter – it’s all too late. The federal government can absolutely crucify anyone, at any time, without even passing legislation, and there is literally not a damn thing anyone can do about it.
Turns out, it’s only the “land of the free” if you’re a politician who lives above the laws of your own creation.