Don’t look for a rush to the door of the Tulsa field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives following this week’s announcement that bump stocks must be surrendered or destroyed.
The regulation, to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, gives owners of the devices until March 21, 2019, to act. A lawsuit challenging the regulation was immediately filed, and a lot of gun owners are simply not interested in turning over anything to the federal government.
“I think the president made the wrong decision,” said Don Spencer, Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association president. “I think it’s something that opens up the possibility for civil war. People are not willing to give up their guns just because it has a certain kind of stock attached to it. This is an attack on Second Amendment rights.”
Tuesday’s regulation, signed by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, follows a promise from President Donald Trump to review the rules around the devices following a mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017 in which the killer sprayed bullets from above into a crowd of concert-goers, killing 58, wounding 400 with gunfire and resulting in many more injured in the ensuing panic.
There is an irony with the ban and strong objections to it because the devices are not particularly popular and are seen by most gun owners as a gimmick. In fact, “bump firing” is a technique that can be used with any semi-automatic rifle that is simply made easier using the special stock attachment. A YouTube search for “bump fire without a bump fire stock” turns up numerous videos.
“I’ve shot with them and, yes, it’s more of a gimmick than anything useful,” Spencer said. “I also know a lot of people have no intention of giving anything up to the government.”
Outside of a few social media sites or talk radio, discussion on the ban was pretty light at gun shops and target ranges in Tulsa Wednesday.
David Stone, owner of Dong’s Guns, Ammo and Reloading said there hasn’t been much talk and he hasn’t sold any since the last few, which sat on his shelves for years, suddenly sold last October.
“I called (the distributor) after those were sold and they weren’t even carrying them anymore,” he said.
He was skeptical of the regulation, however, and questioned both its legality and effectiveness.
“What will happen is some law-abiding citizens might turn them in, but they’ll still be out there and only criminals will have them,” he said.
“I hadn’t even heard about it,” David Reeh, an operating partner at U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa said Wednesday. “We’ll be keeping an eye out for that now if people decide they want to take them out for one last time.”
Reeh said the range is careful about any firearms that allow full-automatic fire because they are held only under special federal licenses. Shooters are asked to check in at the main office with the guns and alert the staff.
“Then if we hear the full-auto fire we know it’s legal,” he said. “Usually if we hear it and it hasn’t been checked, it’s a bump stock and we tell them to put them away.”
He said the devices simply aren’t very safe and added that he doesn’t have a problem with the ban.
“I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “If you’re firing one of those you lose too much control. It’s bumping back and forth and if it’s moving that much you’re losing control.”
He said the regulation doesn’t raise alarms with him about a slippery slope for future seizures of other guns or gun parts.
“There will always be people who want to take away guns and there will always be people like us who support an individual’s right to protect themselves,” he said.
Damien Guedes, a bump stock owner, and three groups, the Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, and the Madison Society Foundation, filed suit against the ATF seeking a preliminary injunction while the courts review the regulation. They are arguing the Trump administration’s definition of a bump stock and a machine gun are not one and the same, and are challenging the acting attorney general’s authority without Senate approval.
“We’ll see how the injunction works,” Spencer said.
While the Las Vegas shootings were horrific, so was the Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, he said.
“Evil will find a way,” he said. “You can’t hold all gun owners responsible for the actions of one sick guy. There are 300,000 people that have them who didn’t shoot up a concert.
“I do not advocate violence against any person and I do not advocate any law enforcement agency upholding this ban,” he said. “Just leave each other alone.”