Bumping Down the Slippery Slope

 

bump-stock_ft

In the wake of the horrific shooting in Las Vegas, various parties have latched onto bump-stocks as the means to launch a new round of gun-control, and foolish Republicans, eager to avoid any negative press, have seemingly surrendered the ground. Legislation has been introduced that will retroactively(!) ban bump-stocks, and due to its wording, potentially criminalize simple improved triggers. Given the over-broad wording, this legislation could be taken to ban all sorts of things.  This should terrify every gun owner, as we see the NRA going wobbly on the issue, and as leftists pounce like hyenas to finish the job. We can always rely on leftists to be insanely, obsessively intent upon exploiting any mass shooting to serve their political aims, but the truth is that it is the people on our side who need the most thorough kick in the pants.  Listening to the parade of Republican politicians who are willing to ban an item the existence of which they were blissfully unaware less than two weeks ago is worse than disheartening, as it speaks to the tendency of politicians to surrender in fear an any issue in which they are unsure.  All of this is bad enough, but as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi(D-CA) made plain on the Thursday following the shooting, a ban on bump-stocks is not the end-game, and will only be used as an opening gambit in a larger grab of gun rights. She wants this to become the slippery slope, as some alleged ‘conservatives’ join with Democrats in desiring an end to the Second Amendment.  Cooler, rational heads must prevail and stop this whole process in its tracks.

Before discussing the politics of bump-stocks, it would seem practical to dispense with some of the disinformation about them. Listening to some of the nonsense going on in the media, and having heard such lunacy as ammunition described as “automatic” over the past week, I think it’s time for some education. My readers are likely aware of these matters, but I think I ought to cover the subject for the sake of those who may go in search of the answer to the questions: “What is a bump-stock” or “What is bump-fire?” To answer these questions, let’s first be sure that we understand some firearms basics, because if I hear one more stupid, ignorant, never-held-a-gun-in-my-life ignoramus-posing-as-journalist misreport this information, my head may well explode.

Since the AR-15 family of weapons is in question in the Las Vegas incident, let us restrain ourselves to that family of weapons, although the basic concepts extend to many other families of weapons, such as the AK-47 and so on.  Automatic weapons are those that permit the firer to depress/squeeze the trigger, hold it in that depressed/squeezed position, and continuously discharge the weapon. In short, “one squeeze, many bullets.” In stark contrast, a semi-automatic weapon requires the firer to squeeze the trigger for each round to be discharged.  In short, “one squeeze, one bullet.” Military rifles like the M16A1, a weapon with which I first became intimately familiar in 1983, have select fire, meaning you can rotate a selector lever from safe to semi to auto.  This permits the firer to decide for the sake of the mission or the exigencies of the moment to fire one round at a time, or many rounds at a time. In training doctrine, we were repeatedly instructed that even on automatic, we should only ever squeeze off “3-5 round bursts” in order to control our fire and to limit overheating associated with firing a member of this family of rifles at cyclic rate. (The “cyclic rate” is an optimistic rate of fire stating the maximum theoretical number of rounds that can be discharged assuming you could feed it enough ammunition continuously, and that the weapon weren’t suffering from overheating. The cyclic rate quoted to we basic trainees back in 1983 was 700 rounds per minute.) The M16 was theoretically capable of emptying an entire 30-round magazine in something around 2.5 seconds.  That’s extraordinarily fast, and if you attempted to sustain that rate of fire, for instance with drum magazines holding 100 rounds, you’d quickly overheat and damage your barrel, and you’d likely wind up with a misfire and jam at some point. All of this addresses the M16, a weapon that was designed and able to select automatic fire from the factory floor.

It is a felony offense to convert a standard semi-automatic AR-15 to select fire or automatic fire.  By the letter of the law, this means that any modification to the weapon that permits the firer to squeeze the trigger and hold it squeezed resulting in multiple rounds being fire is an offense that can and will land you in serious legal jeopardy.  We’re talking federal prison, folks, and not the resort style facility for you, should you do this.  There are many cases of people accidentally causing a material change in the operation of their AR-15 that caused it to fire multiple rounds on a single trigger squeeze that have resulted in successful prosecutions.  In short, the BATFE has no patience for excuses and claims of “I didn’t mean to…” They want people to understand that this is a serious offense and that they will hammer you for transgressions, and they want the broader public to be aware that such violations, even allegedly innocent ones, will be pursued with the full prosecutorial force of the federal government.  This is why it’s always best to leave weapons customization to professionals except for perhaps purely superficial aspects of the weapon in question.

A bump stock does not, I repeat, **DOES NOT** convert a semi-automatic rifle to fully automatic or select fire capability.

This cannot be stated often enough, loudly enough, or with enough vigor.  Under the definition outlined above, the bump stock does not materially change the fact that one squeeze of the trigger results in the discharge of a single bullet.  What a bump stock does do is to permit the user, with a little practice and coordination, to effectively depress the trigger much faster than normal.  This is because a forward force is applied to the handguard/forearm of the rifle in continuous fashion.  Essentially, what is happening is that the weapon is being pulled continuously forward so that the trigger is bumped(thus the term “bump-fire”) by the finger(or thumb) and you can effectively depress the trigger much more rapidly this way than by repeated squeezing in the standard fashion.  Watch this video for a primer on the technique. Note that no special device or parts are needed or employed.  The bump stock works to facilitate this, making it somewhat easier to accomplish because the pistol grip and butt-stock of the rifle are sliding and thus can move back and forth.  In NO WAY does it change the mechanical function of the rifle or its action. However, as the linked video clearly shows, you do not need a bump-fire stock to accomplish this. Bump-firing has been going on for many years before the widespread sale of the various brands of bump-fire stocks. It’s actually very simple to accomplish as the novice shooter in this video shows, in this case using her belt-loop to turn her semi-automatic rifle into an exercise in “spray and pray.” Here‘s the most popular model of a bump-stock.

Understanding all of this, you may now understand my bafflement at the stupidity going on in media and among politicians.  It also makes plain the reason I have advocated ditching the ban on fully automatic weapons all along: If one is willing to forgo any accuracy, any shooter equipped with a semi-automatic rifle or shotgun can produce similar results WITHOUT BUYING ANYTHING.  In fact, it can be accomplished with a semi-automatic handgun too. (See video of a standard Glock 26 being bump-fired here.)

Knowing this, you could immediately ask the rather obvious question: Does bump-firing have drawbacks? The answer is a decisive and emphatic “YES!” You see, one of the problems with bump-firing is that in order to make it work, you have to have some lack of control.  In the case of the bump-stocks like the ones sold by Slide-Fire or FosTech you accept a certain amount of slop in the firing of the weapon.  Also, a semi-automatic weapon fired at this rate becomes terribly inaccurate. As you will notice when you watch any of the videos linked above, there’s not a great deal of control. More, this is wasteful of ammunition. Most of the rounds fired this way won’t strike an intended target as this video demonstrates, and while bump-fire stocks do improve this somewhat, one has to admit that it takes a fair amount of practice to gain much control even at short ranges. Striking point targets consistently at a distance is terribly difficult, if not strictly “impossible.” (Of course, if you’re aiming at a distant area target, like a crowd, or what we in the military would have called a “gaggle,” that’s another matter, but more about that shortly.) Lastly, any time you cycle a weapon this rapidly, even a purpose-built fully automatic machine gun, you invite two troubles, and they are jamming/misfire, and [over]heating. The killer in Las Vegas apparently knew this, which is why he had nearly two dozen weapons in the hotel.  He knew in advance that he’d only be able to fire a limited number of rounds in this fashion per gun, because as the barrel heats up(and this happens amazingly quickly,) the weapons would become less and less useful, accurate, and simultaneously, would become more prone to failures and jams of various descriptions.  Under certain circumstances, this could even lead to catastrophic failure of the weapon resulting in injury to the firer.

One might ask what this all means, particularly with respect to the various gun-control advocates and the advocates of the Second Amendment.  To be perfectly unambiguous, and to remove all doubt from the situation, let me state categorically that there is no way to avoid this as a consequence of the function of semi-automatic firearms.  Semi-automatic firearms are inherently able to produce the “bump-fire” results with or without any particular parts or attachments to facilitate it.  The choice is clear, and you should understand it: If you accept that there’s nothing wrong with semi-automatic weapons, then you accept bump-firing as a consequence.  Period.  Don’t let any politician or advocacy group tell you otherwise. You might ask what my opinion is on this matter, and again, I’ll be only too happy to explain my position: The Second Amendment says(from memory):

A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

It doesn’t say “lever action.” It doesn’t say “firearms.” It says “arms.” The current bans on automatic weapons, accepted and enforced by the courts, are actually entirely unconstitutional in any strict constructionist’s view of the Second Amendment. There is no set-aside for this one or that one.  The Second Amendment says “arms.”

In truth, if honestly applied, the Second Amendment does not permit the Federal Government to restrict any type of “arms,” neither “small arms,” nor even “nuclear arms.” You can expect to hear some howls on this basis, but a clear and concise reading of the Second Amendment leaves the Federal Government no such authority with respect to US citizens. What individual states may do is another matter, although since the courts adopted the [fraudulent]theory of incorporation with rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, one could argue that the statists have screwed themselves.  After all, it was big government types who insisted that the rights protected in the Federal Bill of Rights be taken to extend to the state and local level.  It’s always been a matter of curiosity(actually, simple hypocrisy) that while statists hate the concept of federalism in virtually all other instances, they have long advocated the notion of federalism when it comes to the Second Amendment as they attempt to apply local or state gun control ordinances and statutes.  Then, and only then, federalism is a good thing!  This philosophical inconsistency reveals the absolute hypocrisy of the statists, and reveals that what they really desire is whatever they may desire from time to time, and that should serve as full justification from prohibiting to them any power of any sort.  In short, they want what they want when they want it, logic and reason be damned, and with them, your liberties and rights be damned.

With respect to the situation in Las Vegas, let us discuss the specifics of this case.  Here you had a madman of some sort, whether politically motivated, or simply crazy beyond all repair, who decided for whatever reasons or none at all that he ought to kill as many people as possible.  Let’s look at this closely, to discover what makes this situation somewhat unique.  First, he was in a fixed position.  Essentially, he created for himself a veritable sniper’s nest on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort.  He didn’t need to move, and he didn’t need to seek additional cover.  He was going to be virtually untouchable for some number of minutes, because the concrete platform that comprises each floor of the hotel meant that returning fire at him from anywhere on or near ground level was going to be ineffective, and perhaps dangerous inasmuch as people in rooms in the vicinity would likewise have been endangered.  The angles were all on his side, at least for the initial portion of his attack.  As time went on, and better information was derived about his precise whereabouts, and as forced marshaled to confront him, his long-term odds of escape began to rapidly diminish.  He had almost no chance of hitting a particular target. If his intention had been to kill a particular person, his chances of success while employing a bump-stock at that range were vanishingly small, but since his aim was clearly mass murder, he had no particular target, so that indiscriminate killing was the object but not a detriment to his plan.  These factors made his attack very easy to carry out. There was nothing particularly skilled or clever about this attack.  The most skillful part of his operation was clearly his ability to prepare for the attack, transporting his arsenal of arms and ammunition to the site, and keeping his motives hidden until he pulled the trigger.  In short, he doesn’t seem to have involved others, claims of ISIS notwithstanding, and to date, it hasn’t been shown that any other person had any foreknowledge of the coming attack, apart from reports of a woman at the concert screaming to attendees that they were “all going to die,” and this has not been reliably linked to the attack as of this writing, although there’s something somewhat eerily disciplined that tells me there’s more involved than has so far met the eye.  He was not a military veteran, and as of this writing, there is no indication that he had any military/paramilitary training of any sort, but he had clearly acquainted himself with the performance parameters of the weapons he intended to use.  He knew that he would need multiple weapons for this attack, since no single weapon was likely to remain effective for long at the intended rate of fire.  He apparently understood that he would have a limited time in which to do damage.  There has been speculation that he had an escape plan, but I’m not convinced of that.  From the moment he broke out the windows and commenced fire, his timer was running, and he must have known that his options would come down to:

  1. Attempt to escape
  2. Fight a standoff with SWAT team(s) and/or counter-snipers
  3. Suicide
  4. Surrender

Virtually none of these rotten dirtbags ever surrender, so you can knock #4 off the list.  He had to know that he was likely to face a miserable death if he opted to stick it out and try to hold off or combat a SWAT team.  They would have ended his miserable existence almost as quickly as he did, but his odds of suffering for a time with grievous wounds increased, as did the possibility of his apprehension, which, for all intents and purposes equates to #4, and that outcome was to be avoided at any cost.   Escape was not likely the moment the security guard identified his exact location only 7-8 minutes into the event.  Egress would be virtually impossible.  It’s been noted that he had explosives in his vehicle, and perhaps he intended something more.  The explosives may have been intended for some diversionary purpose, to help make his escape.  That’s all possible, but the truth is that this was likely to end with him dead with a bullet through his brain, one way or another, on the 32nd floor of the hotel.  He must have known this, and whether it ended by SWAT or by his own hand, the probability was that the moment he broke those windows, his life was forfeit.  Even if he had changed his mind about attacking the concert, those broken windows would have resulted in a security response at some point.  It might have resulted in a shoot-out with security at that point, but the moment he broke those windows, there was almost no way for him to go back.  More, he did nothing to conceal his identity, and so even if he had changed his mind and simply run out of the room, hoping to be miles away by the time security discovered his sniper’s nest, they were going to discover it, and then the pursuit would be on.  No, he knew that once he broke those windows, there was no longer an out, and no longer much chance that he would survive the night, apart from immediate surrender, which, as I’ve mentioned, these madmen nearly never do. In a sense, it’s like the 9/11 hijackers: The moment they stood up, box-cutters in hand, and began to attack the crew, making themselves and their intentions known, there was virtually no way to stop it. For this reason, the last moment to stop would have been prior to breaking the windows.  After that, this attack was inevitable, and in fact, should mark its beginning.

The concert goers had no warning, and no chance.  It was merely a matter of where he turned his weapon at any particular moment.  This makes it all the harder for the victims, but also the survivors who emerged essentially unscathed in a physical sense, because many will experience survivors’ guilt.  We should all grieve for the fallen, lend comfort and assistance to the wounded and injured, as well as the families of those struck down, and we must also bear in mind that those who survived this shooting will need us to listen, and need us to remain steadfast in our support of them.

Mass killings are a result of our wretched moral decay.  By this, I mean the propagating view of the lives and liberties of one’s fellow man as a disposable quantity.  This brings me to the current political uproar ongoing in Washington DC and in the media at large, with renewed vociferous demands to dispose of our liberties.  It is asserted by some that what is needed is to immediately ban bump-stocks.  As the linked videos above should make perfectly plain, that’s not going to change anything in any material way. The truth is what Nancy Pelosi has already revealed: They want bump-stocks to be the vehicle used as the barrier-buster by which they will attack ownership of every form of semi-automatic weapon, and ultimately now, fake ‘conservatives’ are seemingly happy to go along with a repeal of the Second Amendment.

What makes this all the more sickening is the position stated on Thursday by the NRA. Apparently, Wayne LaPierre thinks “regulating” bump-stocks is a fine idea.  Wayne had better pull his head out of his duffel-bag.  If the left succeeds in banning bump-fire stocks, how long do you suppose it will be before they make the following argument: “Well, but you can still bump-fire virtually any semi-automatic with or without the bump-fire stock, so let’s ban semi-automatics!” From the videos to which I’ve linked above, you know that argument to be true inasmuch as the bump-stock is largely irrelevant.  The nature of semi-automatic weapons is such that given just a bit of practice, they can be made to approximate the rate of fire of a fully automatic weapon.  With this known, you’re now faced with asking yourself whether you’re ready to surrender all your semi-automatic weapons, the possession of which, by the way, the leftists are only to happy to relieve you.

The truth of this and every previous gun-control debate is the same it has always been: They don’t believe in your basic human right to protect yourself, your liberties, and your families against all comers.  Now we see that the Republicans in Washington DC seem willing to drop your liberties like a hot rock too, and unsurprisingly to some, it appears that President Trump may be poised to side with the gun-grabbers.  Those of you who value the Second Amendment had better prepare for one of the greatest onslaughts of gun control fever in a generation.  The last time politicians in Washington DC had this much impetus in the direction of gun control was with the last foolish “assault weapons” ban. In this country is that 65% of gun deaths are suicides, and of the remainder, once you remove self-defense shootings and police shootings, the vast bulk are committed by young men killing one another in just a handful of our largest and most violent cities.  More, only a tiny fraction are accomplished with anything other than a handgun.  The “assault weapons” ban did nothing to curb killings, because killings with so-called “assault weapons” were never a significant portion of the gun deaths in this country anyway.

There can be no simple ban of “bump-stocks,” because it wouldn’t be anything beyond symbolic in any event, as I’ve explained ad nauseum above. As the article in Reason makes plain, the proposed legislation is monstrously generalized, and as they conclude rightly, will only serve to ensnare otherwise law-abiding Americans. Make no mistake: This is a all-out attack on the Second Amendment disguised as something more innocuous. This is about confiscation of all weapons, starting with semi-automatics, with bump-stocks as the first step. The problem starts with the concession that there is something inherently wrong with the higher rate of fire, and once that’s established, given the fact that nearly all semi-automatics are capable of some form of this manipulation, how long before they simply demand the surrender of them?  What’s coming is not merely the nose of the camel under the tent-flap, but the whole bloody herd, and they have blood in their eyes… Yours.

ΜOΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ!

Like 3 People Liked this
avataravataravatar

Comments are closed.