Northam Doesn’t Want To Let A Crisis Go To Waste

When Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) isn’t trying to figure out if it was actually him in the picture wearing the Klan hood, he is pushing gun control. Now he is taking a page from the Rahm Emanuel playbook and calling a special legislative session of the Virginia General Assembly to push for more gun control after the murders in Virginia Beach.

From the Roanoke Times:

Northam was joined by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring, all Democrats, at a news conference with other Democratic leaders to challenge the Republicans who control the General Assembly and have repeatedly stifled efforts to consider any form of gun control.

“It’s time for decisive action,” Northam said. “Let Virginia show the nation that we can respond to tragedy with decisive action.”

Most gun-control bills have failed in previous sessions of the legislature, including those that would broaden the ability of local governments to limit firearms in public buildings, mandate universal background checks, limit purchases to one handgun per month and allow authorities to seize the weapons of a person found to be a threat to themselves or others. The bills have usually been killed in committee and not progressed to the full legislature for a vote.

Northam said he wants the General Assembly to debate and vote on the bills.

“These are common sense pieces of legislation we have introduced them year after year,” he said. “They have never received a fair hearing. … I want these pieces of common sense gun safety legislation to get to the floor and let these individuals elected by you, the people, to come to the floor and cast their vote.”

Gun control activists are also calling for a ban on “high capacity magazines” (sic). Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City County) said in an interview that “none of the failed legislation met standards for merits, practical application, and efficacy.” That said, Norment might be open to restricting magazines to 10 rounds.

Specifically, Norment said he expects the General Assembly to tackle large-capacity or extended magazines.

“An extended magazine is optical, but does it change the outcome, I’m not sure, but it’s something the citizens like this would say at least it’s an incremental effort to do something,” Norment said. “At least that is an issue that it’s very easy to resolve.”

Norment did vote against a similar ban earlier this year in committee. Those pushing for a mag ban ought to view Joe Huffman’s video on reload times made after Gabby Giffords was shot in Tucson.

As to Northam’s proposals, let’s examine whether they would have done anything to have stopped the murders in Virginia Beach.

Limiting firearms in municipal buildings? The killer was a municipal employee of Virginia Beach and had access to secured sections of the municipal building. He would have also known how to avoid any metal detection devices.

Universal background checks? The guy passed background checks on both of his firearms.

Limit purchases to one handgun per month?  He bought one handgun in 2016 and the other in 2018.

Red flag law? The killer had no history of violent actions, interacted normally with another employee in a bathroom before starting his killing spree, had no disciplinary problems at work, and had received a satisfactory evaluation on his last performance evaluation at work.

Finally, with regard to President Trump and his “I don’t like them” attitude towards suppressors, the killer purchased his suppressor legally. That means he bought a highly regulated product, paid a $200 tax, had to submit fingerprints and pictures, and go through a BATFE background check while waiting probably 6-9 months before taking possession of his suppressor.

Virginia gun owners have a fight on their hands if they don’t want to become the New Jersey of the South. When the Republican Majority Leader is waffling on standard capacity magazines, it is time to start to put the pressure on.

She’s Right You Know

This is something that I thought that I’d ever write but Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is correct. To be more precise, she is correct on one thing. That is that any ban on bump stocks is the business of Congress and not a regulatory agency.

In an op-ed published Wednesday in the Washington Post, she wrote:

Automatic weapons produced before 1986 are highly regulated, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tracks them. Despite this, the agency has consistently stated that bump stocks could not be regulated under the current law. That was because they do not fit the legal definition of an automatic weapon under the National Firearms Act.

Automatic weapons are defined by their ability to fire a continuous number of rounds by holding down the trigger. Bump stocks and other accessories have made this definition largely obsolete, creating a loophole that circumvents Congress’s intent to bar civilians from achieving automatic rates of fire. That’s because the recoil of the stock “bumps” the finger against the trigger, allowing the weapon to achieve automatic fire. Because of this technicality, bump stocks have not run afoul of the law.

ATF initially concluded that it could not ban these devices through regulation in 2008. And after the 2012 shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., ATF further explained in a 2013 letter to Congress that it could not take unilateral action because “stocks of this type are not subject to the provisions of federal firearms statutes.” In addition, internal ATF documents made public through Freedom of Information Act requests by Giffords Law Center and Democracy Forward show that the agency had reiterated its lack of authority to ban bump stocks unilaterally and that it had approved similar devices as recently as April 2017 — under the Trump administration.

In March 2018, the Justice Department did an about-face, claiming that bump stocks do, in fact, fall under the legal definition of a machine gun and therefore can be banned through regulations. The administration’s position hinges on a dubious analysis claiming that bumping the trigger is not the same as pulling it.

Feinstein goes on to say that banning bump stocks by executive fiat opens it to legal challenge and that the Final Rule provides a roadmap for the “gun lobby” to do just that. This is not to say that Feinstein is pro-bump stock. Far from it. She wants them banned along with “trigger cranks” but says it should be done by Congress. Part of her rationale is that if it is done by Congress a future President can’t change his or her mind about bump stocks and ditch the ban. The other part of her rationale is the feeling that President Trump and the BATFE with the ban are intruding upon a Congressional prerogative.

The bump stock ban is already being challenged in District Court in Guedes et al v. BATFE et al. Gun Owners of America have also been promising a lawsuit which as of this afternoon still hasn’t been filed.

Bumpstock Ban, Part II

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives in response to the announcement by Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker that the final rule banning bump fire stocks has more detail as well as “instructions” for owners of these firearms accessories. You have to wonder if the release of this final rule was delayed until after Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired and a more compliant acting AG was in place.

First, the final 157 page rule can be found here. It will officially become final when it is published in the Federal Register. The rule goes into effect 90 days from when it is published in the Federal Register.

Second, the BATFE has published instructions on how to destroy your bump fire stock. They also have links to diagrams for a number of named bump fire stocks which are below.

Third, the other opinion is turn in your bump fire stock at your local BATFE office. They “advise” to call ahead. Also, while they don’t mention it, make sure you have your dog in a safe, undisclosed location.

Fourth, and this is not mentioned by BATFE, you can support the lawsuits that have or will be filed seeking to have this overturned. I will cover some of them in the next post.

Smith and Wesson 76: America’s Vietnam 9MM SMG

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Ian McCollum has a Forgotten Weapons video up on a the S&W M-76 9mm submachine gun. The M-76 is a close copy of the Swedish K that was used by Navy SEALs and other special forces in the Vietnam War. They had to go to S&W for a copy of the Swedish K after the Swedish Government refused to sell any more to the US military due to their objection to the Vietnam War.

I have been fortunate enough to have fired one of these submachine guns and I really liked it. Years ago, LuckyGunner ammo put on a blogger shoot in East Tennessee and this was one of the full-auto firearms available to shoot. I found it easy to handle and quite a fun way to waste ammo. If I ever decide to take the full-auto plunge, it is one of the firearms on my semi-affordable buy list.

Ian included this in his description of the M-76:

Early in the Vietnam War, the US Navy acquired a quantity of Swedish M/45B submachine guns (“Swedish K”) for special forces use. By 1966, however, the Swedish government would no longer authorize sales of arms to the United States because of involvement in the Vietnam War. So instead, the US turned to Smith & Wesson to design and produce a copy of the gun. In January of 1967 the first prototypes were presented of the S&W Model 76, which incorporated a number of changes form the Swedish original. The S&W gun had an ambidextrous selector lever allowing either semiauto or full auto fire, and a permanently fitted magazine well for use with a close copy of the Suomi 36 round double stack box magazine. Most interestingly, the inside of the receiver tube is cut with long rifling-like grooves to allow dirt and fouling to accumulate without impacting the gun’s reliability.

Only a relatively small number of 76s were procured by the Navy (under the designation Mk 24 Mod 0), as the availablity of AR15/M16 carbines proved more attractive option than 9mm submachine guns. The company would continue making them until 1974, with a total of 6,000 produced. This particular example is a T prefix serial, which I suspect (but cannot prove) was Navy purchase.

The reputation of the S&W 76 has been unfortunately tarnished by a succession of full auto and semiauto clones, none of which are as well made or as reliable in use as the original S&W production.

The M-76 that Ian is showing in the video is up for auction by Morphy Auctions. Checking the latest auction bid, it would take you at least $4,000 plus the 26% and the $200 tax stamp to take this home. Still when you consider that no new NFA machine guns are coming on to the market that you can buy (thank you, Hughes Amendment), this is a quite reasonable price.

And In Your Morning News From The DOJ…

The Beltway method of releasing news that you don’t want to get a lot of attention is to release it on a Friday afternoon. I’m guessing the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions is taking it a step further with this release regarding bump fire stocks.

From the DOJ:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Saturday, March 10, 2018


Department of Justice Submits Notice of Proposed Regulation Banning Bump Stocks

Today the Department of Justice submitted to the Office of Management and Budget a notice of a proposed regulation to clarify that the definition of “machinegun” in the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act includes bump stock type devices, and that federal law accordingly prohibits the possession, sale, or manufacture of such devices.

“President Trump is absolutely committed to ensuring the safety and security of every American and he has directed us to propose a regulation addressing bump stocks,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “To that end, the Department of Justice has submitted to the Office of Management and Budget a notice of a proposed regulation to clarify that the National Firearms and Gun Control Act defines ‘machinegun’ to include bump stock type devices.”

This submission is a formal requirement of the regulatory review process. Once approved by the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of Justice will seek to publish this notice as expeditiously as possible.

I don’t have a need, want, desire, or love for bump fire stocks. I do, however, believe in the rule of law. 26 USC Chapter 53 § 5845 (b) defines a machinegun as:

Machinegun. The term ‘machinegun’ means any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can
be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single
function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part
designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in
converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be
assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person.

Arbitrarily saying that a bump fire stock is the same as a machinegun flies in the face of both the black letter law and in the face of numerous BATFE regulatory rulings. It makes a mockery of the rule of law and should be condemned as such. If the DOJ and the Trump Administration want to ban bump fire stocks, they should, as I suggested in my own comment on the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, submit a bill to Congress to add them to the NFA and GCA 68.

In the meantime, I plan to send a few buck to the Firearms Policy Coalition as they have already hired attorneys Adam Kraut and Joshua Prince to submit their comments and fight this in court. By the way, donations to fight this are tax-deductible.

Sorry Donald But This Is Bovine Excrement

President Donald Trump released a Presidential Memorandum today directing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to complete the review of bump fire stocks and to promulgate a rule banning them. The problem with this Presidential Memorandum is that bump fire stocks as exemplified by the SlideFire Stock do not meet the definition of machine guns under the National Firearms Act and applicable BATFE rulings. That was why Rich Vasquez when he was charged with analyzing the SlideFire Stock found that it was not a machine gun nor did it convert a semi-automatic firearm into one. I made this very point in my own comment under the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

If President Trump wishes to change the definition of a machine gun under the National Firearms Act or if he wishes to pass a bill banning bump fire stocks, then he should ask Congress to pass such a bill. Directing the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to make such a change to the existing rules governing bump fire stocks ignores the rule of law despite what he might say in this Presidential Memorandum.

You can read the full Presidential Memorandum below:

After the deadly mass murder in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 1, 2017, I asked my Administration to fully review how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives regulates bump fire stocks and similar devices.


Although the Obama Administration repeatedly concluded that particular bump stock type devices were lawful to purchase and possess, I sought further clarification of the law restricting fully automatic machineguns.


Accordingly, following established legal protocols, the Department of Justice started the process of promulgating a Federal regulation interpreting the definition of “machinegun” under Federal law to clarify whether certain bump stock type devices should be illegal. The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on December 26, 2017. Public comment concluded on January 25, 2018, with the Department of Justice receiving over 100,000 comments.


Today, I am directing the Department of Justice to dedicate all available resources to complete the review of the comments received, and, as expeditiously as possible, to propose for notice and comment a rule banning all devices that turn legal weapons into machineguns.


Although I desire swift and decisive action, I remain committed to the rule of law and to the procedures the law prescribes. Doing this the right way will ensure that the resulting regulation is workable and effective and leaves no loopholes for criminals to exploit. I would ask that you keep me regularly apprised of your progress.


You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.


DONALD J. TRUMP

If Donald Trump has any desire to have a second term, pissing off the gun rights community which provided his margin of victory in battleground states is a damn poor way to go about it.

I’d Support This Bill – And So Does The NRA

Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) has introduced the Hearing Protection Act of 2015. The act would remove suppressors and silencers from the National Firearms Act. In other words, there would be no restrictions (other than state ones) and no $200 tax anymore. You’d only have to go through a NICS check.

As someone who has both tinnitus and moderate 4000 Hz notch hearing loss, I fully support this bill. My hearing impairment came as a result of shooting firearms at earlier period in my life without hearing protection. My audiologist told me last week when she checked my hearing that I would need hearing aids in the future.

The NRA supports this bill and released this statement today:

Fairfax, Va.— The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) announced its support today for the Hearing Protection Act. Sponsored by Congressman Matt Salmon (AZ-05), the legislation removes suppressors from regulations established under the National Firearms Act of 1934.

“Suppressors significantly reduce the chance of hearing loss for anyone who enjoys the shooting sports,” said Chris Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “On behalf of the NRA and our 5 million members, I want to thank Rep. Salmon for his leadership on this important bill.”

Prevailing regulations requires buyers to send an application to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), pay a $200 tax, and pass an arduously time consuming ATF background check. Under Salmon’s bill there will be no application, no tax, and buyers would be required to pass the same National Criminal Instant Background Check (NICS) as law-abiding guns owners.

As a leading voice in the industry, the American Suppressor Association has provided valuable insight to the creation of the Hearing Protection Act.

“Suppressors benefit all involved in hunting and the shooting sports. It’s time to bring the law in line with modern technology,” said Cox.

It is currently legal to hunt with a suppressor in 37 states. 41 states allow private ownership of suppressors.

The bill has not been assigned a number yet but I’ll update this post when it does.

Michael Bane related a conversation he had with someone in the suppressor industry in his most recent podcast. The gist of it was that if suppressors had been invented now instead of the early 20th century, we would be required to have them and we’d be able to pick them up at a corner store.

I believe that is correct. I do know that I’ll fight tooth and nail for this bill. I don’t want today’s younger shooters to have to deal with even moderate hearing loss.

UPDATE: The American Suppressor Association released a statement on the introduction of this bill. As you can imagine, they are very, very pleased with this bill.

It said, in part:

“The American Suppressor Association believes that citizens should not have to pay a tax to protect their hearing while exercising their Second Amendment rights,” said Knox Williams, President and Executive Director of the ASA. “The removal of suppressors from the National Firearms Act has been our ultimate goal since day one. For months, we have worked alongside Rep. Salmon’s office and the National Rifle Association to craft this legislation. Although we recognize that introducing this bill is the first step in what will be a lengthy process to change federal law, we look forward to working with Rep. Salmon and the NRA to advance and ultimately enact this common-sense legislation.”

UPDATE II: The number of the Hearing Protection Act of 2015 is HR 3799. You can quickly send a letter to Congress showing your support by using this PopVox link.

Strong State Preemption Bill Passes In Kansas

The Kansas State House of Representatives gave their approval on Saturday to HB 2578 which provides for state preemption of local ordinances and regulations regarding both knives and firearms. It also overturns restrictions on open carry by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City (KS).

The vote in favor of passage of the conference committee substitute was 102 in favor with only 19 opposed. On Friday, the Kansas State Senate approved the bill 37-2. The bill now goes to Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) who has traditionally been a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights.

From the Topeka Capital-Journal:

Kansas law doesn’t expressly forbid the open carrying of firearms, and the attorney general’s office has in the past told local officials that some restrictions are allowed. The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan., has prohibited the practice, but the bill would sweep any such ban away, except to allow cities and counties to prevent openly carried weapons inside public buildings.


The measure also would prevent cities and counties from enacting restrictions on the sale of firearms and ammunition, or imposing rules on how guns must be stored and transported. Existing ordinances would be void, and local governments couldn’t use tax dollars for gun buy-back programs.

According to a summary of the conference committee report, the bill would also remove the arbitrary discretion from chief law enforcement officers to deny NFA transfers, it would forbid municipal governments from requiring disclosure of carry permits by their employees, and it extends the prohibition about carrying under the influence to all methods of carry.

The bill was strongly supported by the Kansas State Rifle Association, the NRA, and the American Silencer Association. As you can imagine, the gun prohibitionists are full of sour grapes over the passage of a strong bill that could be a model for other states.

But Jonathan Lowry, director of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence’s efforts to defend gun control policies in court and oppose the lessening of existing regulations, called the Kansas measure “undemocratic.”

“The gun lobby likes to prevent people who believe in sensible gun laws from having a say in protecting their own communities,” Lowry said. “It’s cynical, and it’s dangerous public policy.”

No word on any organized opposition to the bill from (former) Mayor Bloomberg’s Illegal Mayors or the Kansas Chapter of the Demanding Mommies.

Kudos to the Kansas State Legislature for passing such a strong bill that includes both firearms and knives under its preemption requirements.

ATF 41P: Deadline For Comments Is Monday At 11:59PM EST (Updated)

Back on September 9th, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives issued a proposed rule and opened the comment period. The proposed rule would require Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) signoff for all NFA transfers including ones for trusts, partnerships, and corporations. As we all know, in many areas, this is impossible to obtain and people go to NFA or gun trust route for just this reason.

The comment period is coming to an end tomorrow (Monday, December 9th) at 11:59pm EST. As of Saturday, BATFE has received 7,291 comments on the ATF 41P. From what I can tell, the overwhelming majority are firmly opposed to this proposed rule.

The American Silencer Association has an excellent page up on how to comment along with templates for your comments. I used one of their templates and then modified it.

Robb Allen at Sharp As A Marble has posted his comment which is much shorter and to the point. There are some variations in the comment section. I think any or all of them would make worthwhile comments to submit.

Jeff Know of The Firearms Coalition has his organization’s comment up here. They are pointing people to attorney John Pierce’s site for examples of short comments as well as some background information on the rulemaking effort. Mr. Pierce has nine suggested comments.

It is too late to mail a comment by the US Postal Service but it sure isn’t too late to use the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Just ID as being for ATF 41P.

All you need to do is cut and paste one of the suggested comments from the links above. It will push up the number opposing it and make it harder for the BATFE to justify going through with this nonsensical proposal.

Or at least it should!

UPDATE: The number of submissions as of Sunday night was 8,124. That means they received 833 comments or more than 10% of the total yesterday. Let’s see if we can double that today!

UPDATE II: The comments are now closed for ATF 41P.  David Codrea’s National Gun Rights Examiner column from Tuesday points to one of the more important submissions. It is from the Firearms Industry Consulting Group of the Prince Law Firm. The submission, which can be downloaded in its entirety here, is over 500 pages including appendices. The comment was submitted on Monday to the Federal and does make reference to a number of the earlier comments submitted.

David notes that:

The FICG comments raise serious questions about both ATF’s compliance with established rules and the law, as well as about the Bureau’s relationship with leaders of the National Firearms Act Trade and Collectors Association, which filed the petition ATF says prompted the rulemaking change proposal in the first place.

Joshua Prince, one of the two principal authors of the submission, says that the BATFE’s actions with regard to the rulemaking give plenty of cause for judicial review if the rule is adopted.

While our Comment may seem massive to some, with funding, a thorough Comment with evidentiary support, including expert affidavits, reports, and analysis, would have likely been almost double in size. Nevertheless, ATF’s failure to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act in a number of ways will allow for judicial review, if ATF decides to move forward with promulgating any final rule. If ATF is inclined to move forward with any final rule, it’s best course of action is to start anew and correct all of its violations of law. But, we know ATF won’t do that, because it cannot admit when it violates the law.

Hence, the Firearms Industry must prepare to fund the necessary litigation to invalidate any final rule.

Given the BATFE’s predilection for bending or breaking the law and with the Democrats’ packing of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, this rulemaking bears a lot of attention as it goes forward.