Things That Go Bump In DC

In a week that contained a lot of big political news the biggest story of last week was the reaction to the Las Vegas shootings. Most of us (including Speaker Paul Ryan) learned of a new gun gizmo called the bump stock. Effectively this inexpensive and easily obtainable attachment allows many semi-automatic rifles to fire like an automatic (think: machine gun). Let’s explore.

It appears that the NRA has given Republicans “dispensation” to regulate the bump stock. This is a change in strategy for the NRA who normally views any gun regulation as part of a slippery slope that will lead to the confiscation of all guns in America. How that confiscation is to take place considering there are more guns than people in America and even most liberals (many of whom are gun owners) oppose such a move. Logistically who is going to take the guns away? Gun loving and in almost all cases gun owning members of law enforcement or the military?

I’m not readily armed with statistics and I’m not about to waste time researching the obvious, but I can confidently state that the overwhelming majority of Americans favor a ban on bump stocks now that we know what they are. Public support for regulation exists. With history as our teacher we know that is not enough when it comes to gun regulation. Think back to Manchin- Toomey which failed in the Senate despite having public support in the eighty and ninety per cent ranges. Such is the power of the NRA.

If we get into the business of guns we soon discover that the NRA is little more than the lobbying arm of the gun manufacturers. Why are they suddenly “getting religion”? Could it be that the bump stock manufacturers are not among their funders? Or is it that bump stocks have so little profit in them that it becomes irrelevant and a convenient sacrificial lamb that creates a great distraction and offers them a talking point in the future?

While either or both of the above scenarios may be true, color me cautious and skeptical. My preference and the talk is of a complete ban on bump stocks. I have yet to hear of a legitimate justification for them. This is not a slam dunk! To quote Yogi Berra, “It ain’t over ‘till it’s over.” Nothing has been proposed, let alone passed yet. With the passage of some time and a distraction of two this issue could easily slip from the political radar screen.

My biggest concern is that the proverbial other shoe falls and that it contains a poison pill. A likely scenario is that the silencer bill suddenly gets attached to a bump stock ban. The combined bills failure can then be blamed on the Democrats and a few RINO’s. If it happens to pass they get the silencer bill they wanted but were having a difficult time introducing while giving up something relatively meaningless in the bargain. The icing on that cake is that they can slip legalizing bump stocks into some future gun bill. In that scenario they make a temporary concession and lose nothing in the long-run.

My optimism is very guarded! If the bump stock is banned it is only a very small step forward and long overdue!

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