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Monday, October 16, 2017

The Federalist: Bipartisan Bump Stock Bill Would Ban All Semi-Automatic Rifles

As was posted last week, Diane Feinstein's bill purportedly banning "bump stocks" would ban more than that single firearm accessory.  Sean Davis wrote at The Federalist that the "bipartisan" House version of the bill, which is virtually identical to the Feinstein bill, goes a lot further than just banning "bump stocks."
The legislation, which was drafted by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican, never bans bump stocks by name. Instead, the proposal bans any person from possessing or making any part that could be used to increase the rate of fire in any semi-automatic rifle. The lead co-sponsor on the gun control bill is Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat and U.S. Marines veteran who completed four tours of duty in Iraq.

“It shall be unlawful for any person … to manufacture, possess, or transfer any part or combination of parts that is designed to increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle,” the bill states. At no point does the proposed legislation specify a base rate of fire against which any illegal increases would be judged, a potentially fatal flaw in the bill’s drafting. As a result, the proposal arguably institutes a federal ban on any and all parts that would allow the gun to fire at all, since the mere ability to fire a semi-automatic weapon by definition increases its rate of fire from zero.

The design of semi-automatic weapons uses the recoil of the weapon generated by the gas explosion in the chamber when a round is fired to automatically chamber a new round, and prepare the weapon to be fired again. Because of this, any parts used in that process would likely be subject to the federal ban proposed in the Curbelo/Moulton bill, since they serve to increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon. Gas tubes, gas blocks, buffer springs, magazines, charging handles, ejectors and extractors, and even triggers themselves could potentially be banned under the bipartisan bump stock ban language proposed by Curbelo and Moulton.
Davis notes that the proposal also does not contain any grandfather provisions for existing gun owners or manufacturers, and fails to provide any means by which gun owners and manufacturers could turn in their weapons to federal authorities to avoid running afoul of the bill’s effective ban on the possession of any semi-automatic firearms or parts. As Sebastian at Shall Not Be Questioned noted in the above linked article, this is what happens when you have badly drafted legislation.

Davis appeared on NRATV's Cam and Company on Friday to discuss his article.

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