“Function” Versus “Form”–Banning Bump Stocks
by Elliot Fineman
CEO – Founder
National Gun Victims Action Council
October 10, 2017
There is a lot of excitement today in the media and at a number of Gun Violence Prevention Groups though not at NGVAC. They are pleased to see some bi-partisanship support for banning bump stocks and to hear that the NRA has indicated it would support such an initiative. Many are pleased that any gun regulation at the federal level is being considered at all.
Bump stocks allow the conversion of semi-automatics––which can shoot 80 – 100 bullets per minute––to fully automatic which can shoot 600 – 800 bullets per minute. They are sold by gun dealers now—as are other devices that do the same thing. They are the most popular because they are the cheapest of the devices (costing between $100 and $200).
Actually, the NRA––which has blocked all gun safety laws for more than 40 years––has not suddenly become reasonable: it is up to its old tricks. The NRA has only agreed to have the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) review bump stock regulations to prevent a congressional vote on the record for any federal gun control regulation. (The NRA always promotes its irrational “slippery slope” argument i.e., if we ban bump stocks it is the first step to “taking your guns away.”)
There is another reason the NRA prefers to deal with the ATF rather than Congress. It was the ATF that shockingly ruled in 2010 that bump stocks are not covered by any gun regulation because they are “parts.” Moreover, ATF rules can be overridden by executive actions unlike congressional actions.
However, if the ATF does not act and the fate of bump stocks is in the hands of Congress, the NRA has a second trick up its sleeve. It will offer to trade its “leniency” on bump stocks for passage of the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act. This shocking bill would let gun owners with concealed carry permits issued in any state—including states that do not require training or permitting as a requirement for carrying— legally carry their weapons in any state.
At NGVAC we believe the gun violence prevention groups should avoid arguments with the pro- gunners and the NRA about the construct (form) of the gun and how to prevent it from being converted to a fully automatic. These are trivial issues to debate and are completely beside the point as you can see in this graphic.
The law that is needed is: no one can have a gun––whether semi-automatic, assault weapon, sporting rifle, handgun etc.—
that can shoot more than 10 bullets per minute. It is the function of the gun not the form that makes it so lethal. This means magazines cannot exceed 10 bullets and a ban on possession or sale of any adaptive devices that expand the limit of 10 bullets per minute.
How can we get a magazine limit of no more 10 bullets per minute passed at the federal level? How can we ban any conversion devices? I discuss this in depth in a book I am writing that will be available by early spring.