I’ve been asked to explain my position on the NRA’s recent statement. I sat down and wrote this letter; hopefully it will explain my reasoning.
An Open Letter About the NRA’s Mistakes in its Statement on Bumpfire Stocks
Let’s start with my thoughts on what the Second Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (RKBA) means. I believe that the RKBA was intended to allow the citizenry to protect the nation against foreign invasion or against tyrannical government. It has nothing at all to do with duck hunting or “sporting purposes.” The rights exist in the people; they are not granted by the Constitution nor by the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment exists to restrain the Federal government (and has been incorporated to restrain the states as well).
To me, the RKBA means that there may come a time when a foreign nation invades us, or the government has grown tyrannical to the point that it must be stopped with force. When the call comes out to form up irregular infantry companies in town squares across the land, citizens grab weapons and equipment out of their closets or gun safes and head down to muster. In order to form provisional infantry units, the citizens need the ability to own weapons suitable for the task.
These weapons need to be contemporary or equivalent to the average infantryman. If the modern military has self-loading automatic rifles, then the citizenry needs to be able to match those capabilities. If the modern infantryman has a belt-fed light machine gun, then the citizen needs to be able to have one as well. Crew served weapons may be different, although there is plenty of historical precedent for civilians fielding entire warships or batteries of cannon to fight.
If the threat is tyrannical government, it makes no sense for that same government to keep control of the weaponry to pass it out to citizens upon muster, or to know where each weapon is housed, or to be able to prevent the citizens from obtaining them in the first place. What good would it do to allow a government the ability to hamstring the very people that keep it in check?
The Supreme Court wisely laid out what the standard should be in the 1939 case US v. Miller, where it posited that any weapon that was useful to military service should receive the protection of the Second Amendment.
This brings us into the Constitutional failure of thought that the Federal government can regulate anything it wishes under the Commerce Clause. This faulty reasoning (established first in Wickard v. Filburn, arguably one of the worst-decided cases in SCOTUS history) allows the Federal government powers of regulation well beyond those granted to it in the limited powers of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. A measure originally intended to prevent trade wars between the states has evolved into a many-tentacled, omnipresent Leviathan of control.
Further, nowhere in the Constitution is the Federal government authorized to enact general crime control statutes. Congress only has the implied powers associated with the express provisions of Article I, Section 8 govern crime control, such as the ability to prosecute murder of a postman, or the ability to enact a military justice system to discipline troops. However, this also has been perverted to the point that the citizenry believes the Federal government has the authority to enact any measures Congress sees fit to proscribe any activity at all.
This brings us to the recent NRA statement about bumpfire stocks. The NRA’s argument is inherently flawed on many levels. First and foremost, it starts out with the incorrect assumption that machine guns can and should be heavily regulated. This assumption is then magnified when applied to bumpfire stocks, which are in no way, shape, or form machine guns of any kind. The BATFE ruling soundly reasoned that there is still only one activation of the trigger per round fired. The BATFE (to its rare credit) was unwilling or unable to rewrite the definition of a machine gun in order to proscribe bumpfire stocks. The conflation of bumpfire stocks with machine guns by the NRA is dangerous and foolish. It is especially dangerous given the vast reach and platform that the NRA has, and the risk for others to incorrectly conflate the two types of weapons as well.
Further, the statement advocates for the BATFE to be the ones to review the bumpfire stock decision and regulate it by rulemaking. This abdication of Congressional authority to an executive agency is one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard. With the unfortunate Chevron decision in place, it will be almost impossible to dislodge any unfavorable ruling by the BATFE, and therefore leave the force of law to be decided by some career bureaucrats with no accountability to the voters. This is an unfathomable position in which to place our inalienable rights.
I’ve heard it said that this must be some genius 4-D chess move by the NRA, designed to extract concessions from the gun-grabbing crowd. This is a foolish principle as well. There cannot be negotiation on the RKBA. At all. It is a fundamental right, and it’s all or nothing. The text is clear: “Shall not be infringed.” Chris Cox’ voice was on a loop when I called the other day to express my displeasure, and I heard him say, “We will not back down.” This hypocritical behavior by the top brass of the NRA is what is causing its support to bleed out profusely.
There cannot be negotiation with gun grabbers. They don’t want to negotiate; they want to steal our rights at every turn. Every “negotiation” somehow seems to wind up with us giving away more and more, and then cheering when we block them from taking yet one more sliver.
These concessions do not help our cause, they only hurt it. This is not a zero-sum game. Every step further away from complete and total deregulation of firearms is a loss.
Look at NFA ’34, GCA ’68, the poison pill Hughes Amendment to FOPA ’86 (FOPA ’86 is a perfect example of cheering when we claw back towards where we already were), the ’89 import ban, and the ’94 OMNIBUS crime bill. We never gain, we only lose. If we claw back a step or two, we call it a win. It’s still an end loss. If we give up one thing to gain another, we haven’t gained anything.
Pelosi admitted the other day that she “certainly hoped” that a bumpfire stock ban would lead to a slippery slope of more gun control. This is how they get to their desired end state: complete civilian disarmament. Further, when we allow the gun-grabbers to drag us down to the level that they’re arguing over individual components, weapon systems, or action types, they’ve already won the war over our rights. We’re arguing with them over whatever scraps that we can salvage.
Most importantly, in this most recent statement the NRA actively called for gun control. Think about that for a second: the biggest, most persuasive gun-rights group in the nation actually CALLED for more gun control. My jaw hit the floor, and I was appalled. Clearly the top brass does not truly believe in fighting for the right to keep and bear arms, if they are actively assisting the gun-grabbers in calling for more gun control.
This call is dangerous for a few reasons: first and foremost, it abdicates the argument and claims that gun control actually has merit as an idea, and might actually work to solve the issues of violence in our nation. The NRA’s statement says to the nation: “Gun control has merit, and in some cases is a reasonable response.” We all know this to be a lie. Yet, why does the most powerful gun-rights organization in America give them that win? Talk about bad optics.
The NRA has tons of power. Democrats revile it. Republicans quake when its members blow up the phone lines. So why would an organization this powerful knowingly and willingly bend? What could possibly be gained? Dems will no longer be worried about the NRA if they realize it can be bullied and pushed around. When they see that the NRA administration is spineless and unwilling to stand up at every turn, they will be empowered to ignore the NRA and attack.
I don’t care about bumpfire stocks. But this statement isn’t about bumpfire stocks. It’s about the creeping attack on our rights, and the dangerous encroachments on our liberties if we do not call out infringements when we see them.
If the NRA has so much power, why would the organization waste it? USE IT. To shamelessly steal their words and use them against the NRA: “Stand and fight.”
by Baxter Stegall
Shared on Facebook via David Codrea