Bump stocks

The Supreme Court issued a ruling that invalidates a 2018 ban on “bump stocks”. These are designed to increase the rate of fire of semiautomatic rifles using the recoil to mechanically “bump” the trigger against the user’s finger.

Is there any kind of practical use for this, other than having fun or possibly mowing down people? Not really. It’s not like there’s a need for anything of the sort while hunting or target shooting. Of course, the Second Amendment has nothing to do with either hunting or target shooting, so that isn’t really pertinent. There are a lot of guns out there that are essentially useless during peacetime other than for pure entertainment. Never underestimate the childlike glee of emptying a 20- or 30-round magazine downrange, safely, in a brief period. If anyone ever offers you the chance to run a few dozen (or a few hundred) rounds through anything on full auto, take it. No question. I’ve fired an M60 machine gun, an M16 on full auto, and a charming little .22 submachine gun that looks like the love child of a Thompson and a Lewis gun. That one was suppressed, for even more fun. I highly recommend it if you get the chance.

Don’t take this to mean that I’m in favor of bump stocks, or in favor of banning them. My opinion on that subject honestly doesn’t matter one bit. What does matter is how this whole drama has played and is playing out.

In 2018, the BATFE issued a ruling that they considered bump stocks to be included in the definition of a “machine gun”. Machine guns are, to a degree, legal to own, as long as the gun was manufactured prior to 1986 and the owner has the gun registered with BATFE and has paid a tax. Since supply is very limited and getting smaller all the time, owning a machinegun is beyond the reach of most gun enthusiasts. Even the cheapest full-auto gun will set you back well over $10K, plus a long slog of paperwork. Of course since bump stocks were developed after 1986, if they’re ruled to be machine guns — they’re illegal.

But there’s a specific definition of a “machine gun” in the National Firearms Act. The BATF had issued several letters in the years prior to 2018 stating that bump stocks were not considered machine guns, and were legal. In 2018, they reversed that and declared them to be machine guns. This kind of semi-random rulemaking is not unusual for the BATFE, nor is it unique to them — plenty of agencies do the same kind of thing.

The minority dissenting opinion from the Supreme Court, written by Justice Sotomayor for herself, Kagan, and Jackson, said this:

“When I see a bird that walks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck. A bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle fires ‘automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger,’ I, like Congress, call that a machinegun.”

Well, there’s the problem. You see a duck, someone else sees a loon or a goose or whatever. A bump stock does not technically allow the gun to keep firing “by a single function of the trigger”. It just allows the shooter to activate the trigger quite a bit faster than most of us could do manually. That’s according to all those BATFE issued letters saying that they were not machine guns.

Congress did, in 1934, write a definition, and the BATFE has been interpreting and re-interpreting it ever since. If Congress wants to impose some improved or additional clarity, or if they want to expand or change the definition, then Congress should do so rather than allowing the BATFE to do what they lack the will or the motivation or the intestinal fortitude to do. Updating a law every 90 years or so might not be the worst thing that could happen.

Shooting at The Bullet Hole

Played a little hooky today; I took an hour and a half to take a trip to TBH with Pete and his friend Austin.  We managed to come home a couple of pounds lighter, having gone through 100+ rounds of .40 S&W, 50 or so rounds of .44 Magnum and a couple boxes of .22 ammunition.  Much fun was had by all, and I think I may have brought home more .40 brass than I started with for a change.

The guy in the next lane had a suppressed .45 and a suppressed Walther – didn’t see whether it was a .22 or a 9mm.  On a bright note, it looks like Titegroup works quite well in the M&P .40 Compact, so I can go ahead and load up a bunch of rounds with that.

Good work, Supremes!

Today the Supreme Court issued its ruling on the DC v. Heller case. What we now have, for the first time, is agreement by the Supreme Court that the Second Amendment to the US Constitution protects each individual’s right to keep and bear arms, not just the government.

This is truly good news. While the Court didn’t go any further than striking down DC’s complete ban on handguns, nor did I expect it to, at least there is a decision that makes sense. I can foresee a long path of suits to nudge our rights back into existence in other areas like Chicago, where bans like DC’s have created what amount to safe free-fire zones for criminals and gangs.

I think I’ll go to the range this week and celebrate.

One partial solution for airline security

I have an idea that I think would greatly improve the safety and security of air travel. Why not deputize a large number of ordinary, non-professional law enforcement people who travel regularly as auxiliary Air Marshals? Take people who fly regularly and shoot regularly, can demonstrate superb accuracy with a handgun under realistic conditions, can pass a training course and qualify. Give them the training they need to handle hijacking and terrorism situations in the air — make sound shoot/no-shoot decisions, when to engage and when to shut up and sit still, that sort of thing. Allow them to fly armed with concealed weapons and special ID. Now you have a significant possibility that any given flight, especially those on heavily traveled routes, will have at least one trained, armed person aboard who is able and willing to prevent a hijacking or terror attack. Continue reading “One partial solution for airline security”

DC vs Heller

Today I was reading the latest news in the DC vs. Heller case, which promises to be one of the more eagerly anticipated and discussed Supreme Court opinions of the decade. DC vs Heller is a suit brought by a group of District of Columbia residents in an effort to overturn a set of laws that outright bans the ownership or possession of all handguns,and very severely limits the ability to own and use long guns as well. In one of the news articles linked from Wikipedia, I read the following quote:

“If the Supreme Court lifts the gun ban, you are going to have a serious war,” [Smith] says. “Everybody will think they can defend themselves. There will be more shootings, more killings.”

Oh, my. Now, here I am, forty-something years old, and all this time I have labored under the misconception that an individual has the right to defend himself (or herself), and that said right predated the US Constitution by, well, as long as there have been living creatures on the Earth. Apparently, though, plenty of people feel that you and I — meaning normal, law-abiding citizens attempting to live our lives in peace — have no right to defend ourselves, our families or our property, even though all will readily admit that there is no shortage of armed criminals intent on robbery, rape, murder and various other forms of mayhem.

Some people just plain befuddle me. It seems that many of those most in favor of gun bans and confiscation are those who would most immediately and directly benefit from an increase in the number of armed, law abiding citizens in close proximity. I’ll be the first to say that the chances of my house getting robbed, or of me getting mugged, are far lower than those of someone living in a rough part of town. It’s not directly related to the fact that I am able to defend myself and my home; it’s more because we’re simply out of harm’s way for the most part. It takes effort to come out to this end of town to rob and kill, and criminals are inherently lazy to begin with. But there’s also the fact that out here, people will watch out for their neighbors; they will get involved; they will get descriptions of cars and people; they will talk to and cooperate with police. That fact that they may also shoot back is secondary.

Imagine the impact on the crime rate in some of the rough neighborhoods of (for example) the District of Columbia if the criminals knew there was a good chance their next intended victim might well be armed and ready to (gasp) defend themselves. It doesn’t take a lot of deep thinking to figure it out. Ms. Smith might possibly be right about one thing; there might be a very short-term increase in the number of shootings, but the majority of those shot would be the ones who, as they say, need shootin’.

Did some reloading

Of course, the first step in reloading ammunition is making empties.  I did that yesterday by shooting a hundred rounds of .40 S&W at the Bullet Hole.  :)  Since the recipe I was trying worked out pretty well, I went ahead and loaded a couple hundred this morning.  6.2 grains of Unique over a CCI small pistol primer, with 155 grain Berry’s plated flat nose bullets.  I did get my freebie box of 180 grain Hornady XTP hollow points, so I’ll try those on my next trip too. Continue reading “Did some reloading”

Learning to checker

I’ve started learning to checker stocks.  I hadn’t given it much thought before, but in the process of doing the rebuild on the Remington I decided to re-cut the factory checkering.  I started out using a single line checkering tool, and have a couple of new cutting heads on the way.  The biggest challenge, really, is keeping the lines straight.  When I can keep the lines from getting off kilter, the results are really, really nice.