|Solid concepts 1911: coming to a garage near you|
Millions of people learn what bump fire is for the first time and wonder why anyone can basically have their own machine gun. All gun owners can answer about bump fire stocks is that they are range toys. Bump fire stocks are now indefensible while everyone misses the point that the stocks just do something that talented folks can do with their hands alone.
NRA gives into proposed bump fire ban. Republicans also join the ban bandwagon. ATF's legislation by determination letter concept is validated by NRA and Congress.
Feinstein proposes legislation that bans anything that can make a semi-auto gun fire faster. If the ATF can make a determination just what exactly makes a semi-auto fire faster, that can include smooth triggers too, because Jerry Miculek can fire at 500 RPM using his finger. ATF bans drop-in triggers and any trigger part that is not the factory junky pull.
Now the precedent is set for an assault weapon ban. What else can the ATF determine by determination letter? If "no one needs a bump fire stock," then why does anyone really need a semi-auto? Semi-auto guns can be fired almost as fast as bump fire. Plus X, Y, and Z mass shooting with a semi-auto.
All because gun owners, Congress, and the NRA gave in over and "unnecessary" and "scary" feature like the bump fire stock. Sound at all like pistol grips, forward hand grips, shoulder-things-that-go-up, bayonet lugs, and flash hiders? (Imagine if he didn't have a flash hider; maybe someone could have seen him sooner!)
No one needs a rifle that can fire more than 10 rounds without reloading! Just like how no one needs an accessory that can simulate machine gun fire.
Except for those people who bought a bump fire stock because it kept them from illegally modifying their rifle into an illegal machine gun, just so they could scratch that full auto itch. That's what bump fire is for; giving people who might tinker with the guns an out. If machine guns weren't ridiculously expensive because the supply is arbitrarily finite, this wouldn't even be an issue. And because machine guns are so darn rare and costly, very few people have one even though demand would be overwhelming.
We saw a similar hysteria over 80 years ago. “No one needs a machine gun.” How many gun owners would give their eyeteeth to be able to afford a machine gun, something that vast majority of the sporting public at the time would not have felt there was any need, or desire, for.
The National Firearms Act of 1934 was a crime bill, disguised as a tax bill, meant to regulate machine guns, handguns, "destructive devices" (things that go boom), and easily concealable short-barreled shotguns and rifles. As most seem to know, the Depression and Prohibition in the '20s and '30s were also responsible for a crime wave with the most notorious bandits and gangsters of the 20th Century, most of whom liked the few machine guns at the time.
In 1934, portable fully automatic weaponry (legally termed "machine guns") was very limited. Submachine guns in the US were largely Tommy guns and Colt BARs and Monitors. A few odd semi-autos were often converted as well, such as M1911 machine pistols. Though the selection of weapons was very small, their use made a huge psychological impact on police and the public. While some states banned machine guns after WWI (mostly because of wartime bring-backs), the hue and cry to ban them federally was not until the bootlegger and gangster days hit full swing.
Pistols had been attacked for years and an outright ban on them was quite popular, along with very modern licensing and registration to start. The NFA originally required a $200 tax stamp, for many several months' or a year's wages, for pistols and revolvers. The NRA agreed to the bill only after handguns were dropped out. Short-barreled shotguns and rifles were originally included, but not removed, because if revolvers and pistols were illegal, the logical step would be to cut-down long-guns to make them easier to hide. For some reason, perhaps the intimidation factor of a sawed-off shotgun, the long guns were left in after handguns were removed.
When the law was passed, many hillbillies were arrested for possessing illegal items, but not machine guns, usually sawed-off shotguns. This resulted in the Miller Case, which if enforced properly today, would legalize virtually all regulated items. You see, it was very easy to saw-off a few inches of barrel to create a handy shotgun for vehicle protection or hunting, but quite difficult to make a machine gun. If you were lucky to own a machine gun, you had probably brought it back from France in a dufflebag.
Firearms design was not as easy as it was today. First, you had to know what you were doing in a machine shop. Prototyping was the only way to go. Very few men had the knowledge and resources to go out to the garage and build a gun, much less a submachine gun, from scrap. Certainly the average person had no way of drilling out a receiver blank to make an 80% gun. Technology limitations made the NFA possible; except for the very few, the only way to get a regulated machine gun or silencer was to go out and buy one. At $200 a pop in taxes, plus the cost of the gun (usually that much or far more), very, very few could afford it.
The NFA was enforceable when all that most people could do was chop off some of their barrel. If the Treasury Department agents had to track down everyone with a garage who was cobbling together a lightweight, man-portable carbine-caliber machine gun, the NFA would be a joke. Machine gun ownership was relatively rare until inflation made $200 seem rather small in comparison to a $500 M16.
The days of the gun manufactures needing a large factory was by the time the 1980s rolled around. Anyone with skills, tooling, and a shop or warehouse zoned for manufacture could now build guns. More and more people were buying machine guns as more and more manufacturers built them. Then in 1986, the anti-gun hysteria caught up with the technological revolution. New machine gun manufacture for civilian sale was stopped, creating a very finite supply (about 125k) of legal guns, just like in 1934. Registered (transferable) machine gun prices went through the roof because none were going to be made again for a very long time, if ever.
A competent machinist can follow directions in many of the online tutorials or instructional books (thank you First Amendment) to build submachine guns in their garage. However, imagine the ease of constructing a machine gun that was no more complicated to fabricate and assemble than a typical 80% receiver.
In a few years, when home 3D printing (both polymer and metal) become commonplace, you'll be able to make your own full-auto AR-15 or whatever else and no one can stop you. Imagine a full-auto rifle in the hands of everyone who wants one. Is the ATF going to arrest the millions of Americans who make their own machine guns? No way it's possible logistically and for damn sure these new machine gun owners aren't going to go to jail just so a pointless status quo is preserved.
You can't stop the signal. Technology will soon invalidate the NFA the same way the printing press and the Protestant Reformation ended the monolithic church. So have fun banning bump fire and killing the suppressor bill. Those efforts will only push technology-minded patriots to come up with effective work-arounds so that we all can possess what we want without being strangled by an outdated and unconstitutional law.