Bump Stocks: Hundreds of thousands still unaccounted for after ban

I saw this over at the Washington Times… Let me tell you… I’m shook.

The federal government collected fewer than 1,000 bump stocks during the run-up to a new ban in March, despite estimates that hundreds of thousands of the devices that mimic machine gun fire are in circulation, according to federal data provided to The Washington Times by the Justice Department.

As the nation marked the second anniversary Oct. 1 of the Las Vegas massacre, which prodded the Trump administration to ban bump stocks, the numbers offer a cautionary tale on the scope and resources needed to enforce any sort of gun buyback program.

You know everytime we tell you a law or rule has no enforcement mechanism and cannot function they way a gun controller says it will, we aren’t kidding. This isn’t just an exercise in, “BuT Ma SecOnD AmmEndermEnt!?!” and blind opposition of any and all rules on firearms. We, the folks of the industry who do this everyday, actually try and craft effective ways to be sure we are mitigating these risks.

But no one takes us seriously when we way so, because we’re just the “gun lobby” and couldn’t possibly want to reduce and protect folks from violence? Could we? Maybe when we stated there was no enforceable way to do this and there would be massive non-compliance we were speaking from a place with a little more evidence backing than simple bluster.

Between the issuance of the final rule banning the devices in December 2018 and April 4, 2019, shortly after the prohibition took effect in late March, 582 bump stocks were “abandoned” to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, according to Justice Department records, and 98 bump stocks were kept as evidence.

The Times obtained the records through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The administration cited estimates that 280,000 to 520,000 bump-stock-type devices were in circulation when it published the final rule in December.

Well… that’s rough. 680:280,000 is .24% and that is a best estimate from those numbers. 99.7% non-compliance or unknown compliance.

The Justice Department has resisted releasing the number of bump stocks people have turned in to the federal government, saying it paints an incomplete picture of compliance with the ban.

People could destroy the devices themselves or turn them in to other law enforcement agencies, ATF spokeswoman April Langwell said.

I’m sure all those hundreds of thousands of folks got right on that compulsory destruction of their own property. People are thrilled to do that. It wasn’t like this was a stupid reactionary rule change in response to a single horrific criminal event that was destined to fail from its inception.

The Washington State Patrol reported in late March that about 1,000 bump stocks were turned in as part of a local buyback program before funds were exhausted.

“…before funds were exhausted” and yet the device is supposedly so dangerous it must be mandatorily removed from society. Yet the government cannot foot the money to buy them at full MSRP back in, at the very least, a show of fair compensation for the property. That’s a rule somewhere isn’t it?

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation. – Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

I would and will consider mandatory destruction for public safety ‘taken for public use’.

The ban could be seen as something of a smaller-scale “trial run” for what the federal government would have to do under a mandatory ban and buyback of certain military-style, semi-automatic firearms along the lines of what Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke is advocating, said Robert Spitzer, a professor at SUNY Cortland.

“I think it does have some implications for that,” said Mr. Spitzer, who has written extensively on the politics of gun control. “On its face, it’s not clear how any kind of mandatory program would work.”

Mr. Gottlieb agreed.

“It telegraphs, quite frankly, that if a Beto O’Rourke-type confiscation scheme ever got passed, that at best they’d have a fractional percent of people actually turning them in,” he said.

No kidding. The problems with prohibition are well known, yet often ignored, and I to this day cannot fathom why.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. editor@gatdaily.com A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.