The people's voice of reason

What has been the controversy regarding the gun accessory, the bump stock?

The use of automatic weapons when fighting an opponent can cause great fear in that opponent who may only be able to return fire each time the trigger to a weapon is pulled by the finger. An automatic weapon or machinegun can by definition fire multiple rounds with a single pull of a trigger by a finger or single finger engagement of the trigger.

Firing a semi-automatic weapon is hard enough when you have a fair amount of control, especially a handgun at anything greater than close range. Firing an automatic weapon for more than a very short period of time (short bursts) causes the weapon to rise into the air as you fire and accuracy is greatly diminished.

There is a device that will fit Glock semiautomatic handguns but not all handguns and that item is called a “Glock” switch. This device turns a Glock into a machinegun by definition and is therefore considered illegal. The Alabama House of Representatives passed in early May 2024 a law to make the Glock switch, illegal. It has gone to the Alabama Senate and I am unsure where that stands. Using the switch, a user can empty an extended magazine in a very short amount of time. A handgun magazine does not have the capacity that an automatic rifle has which may have an extended magazine, even two magazines taped together that can be quickly flipped around after the first magazine is emptied. Automatic rifles can also use drums that hold very large quantities of ammunition.

In addition to using a Glock switch, which is illegal, the Glock is not manufactured to be used as an automatic device and may not physically hold up to a quick succession of multiple rounds of ammunition.

The device popularized for a semiautomatic rifle to give a machinegun type effect is the bump stock. Like so many things that were invented innocently enough, evil people use good things for an evil purpose. Just as the internet was developed and can connect people from all over the world for good things so can it be used to commit financial crimes against others, lure children to evil people and provide lewd web sites to attract mostly men to develop addictions to lure them away from marital relationships or entice them into premarital visual addictions. Bumpstocks can be used for evil when a day at a shooting range to experience something like firing an automatic weapon turns into using multiple magazines to fire dozens of rounds at any gathering of people. While the person firing fortunately loses accuracy, the bumpstock use can still provide a withering fire as one pulls the front stock forward while depressing the trigger. The single trigger pull does not meet the definition of the trigger pull of a machinegun in that the stock moves after each recoil and the trigger then quickly engages again and again.

At a concert in Las Vegas in October, 2017 a man used the elevation of a hotel room to shoot down onto the crowd. The man was using a bumpstock. There were almost sixty deaths and around five hundred wounded individuals. Prior to that shooting, the ATF did not consider a bump stock device as converting a semi-automatic weapon to a machine gun. After the shooting, the ATF reversed their stance and considered the use of bump stocks as converting weapons to machineguns. The ATF exceeded their statutory authority and rewrote the definition of a machinegun and gave the owners of bump stocks an ultimatum that they could either destroy their bump stock or turn it in to avoid criminal prosecution. Michael Cargill surrendered two bump stocks to the ATF under protest and then filed suit. The case eventually found its way to the United States Supreme Court and is titled as Garland v. Cargill, Merrick Garland being the United States Attorney General.

Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion that was recently decided on 14 June 2024. While the opinion itself is multiple pages and focuses not only on the history of the bump stock but describes in detail how the bump stock works. The description of how the bump stock works is then carefully analyzed against the official definition of a machinegun. The sticking point is the definition in that a machinegun requires only a single finger pull to fire multiple rounds typically from a high capacity magazine. The bump stock with a finger pull of the trigger and with the other hand pulling the fore end of the stock forward allows the recoil of each shot to move the gun in a fashion that the finger rapidly engages the trigger immediately after it is disengaged.

Justice Thomas went further to say that the ATF had exceeded its statutory authority. It was a definite win for those that support gun rights. As much as I personally enjoy guns for recreational use, I do hope there is a method to keep tools from criminals that might be used for evil purposes.

This article is informative only and not meant to be all inclusive. Additionally this article does not serve as legal advice to the reader and does not constitute an attorney- client relationship. The reader should seek counsel from their attorney should any questions exist.

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