Members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are not pleased with the National Rifle Association.
Last week the ATF Association, which is comprised of former and current ATF agents, wrote a letter that signaled its frustration with the nation’s gun lobby.
“Recently, some have attempted to cast blame on ATF for not banning devices like the ‘bump slide’ used in the Las Vegas shootings,” states the letter addressed to U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), who sponsored a bill to ban the accessory.
“We would like to clarify this confusing issue to protect honorable ATF employees from false allegations that they chose to make this item legal when it was the law that prohibited them from regulating the item,” it continued. We also hope this information will assist you in a better understanding of this issue.”
It’s pretty clear whom the ATF Association is referring to. In the aftermath of the shooting in Las Vegas, the NRA called on the ATF to review the legality of bump stocks for a third time.
“Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the [ATF] to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law,” said the organizations two top dogs Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox in a joint statement.
During an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” LaPierre followed up that statement with a more damning critique of the agency.
“It’s illegal to convert a semiautomatic to a fully automatic,” said LaPierre. “A.T.F. needs to do its job. They need to look at this and do its job.”
The ATF Association made it abundantly clear in the letter that the agency did its job and that if there is to be a ban on bump stocks it has to come from Congress.
“The bump slide, and several other similar after-market accessories that increase the rate at which a shooter can pull the trigger, are engineered to avoid regulation under Federal law,” states the letter.
“These accessories DO NOT cause the firearm to shoot more than one shot by the single function of a trigger pull. The notion that ATF chose not to regulate an item it had the authority to regulate is false,” it continued. “The law is very clear and it does not currently allow ATF to regulate such accessories.”
As a recommendation, the ATF Association said that lawmakers could amend the National Firearms Act to allow for the regulation of “multiburst trigger activators,” as states like California and New York have already done.
“We hope you will support legislation to regulate these multi-burst trigger activators. As noted, the National Firearms Act of 1934 works well with the items that it regulates. We also hope you will not allow the honorable employees of ATF, who followed existing law in their bump stock ruling, to be falsely accused of not doing their job by those who seek to exploit the situation for political gain,” concludes the letter.
Look, I love the National Rifle Association. As I often say, they do more to protect and defend the Second Amendment than any other organization. But when it comes to the whole bump stock saga, Chris and Wayne pointed the finger in the wrong direction. The ATF got it right. Bump stocks shouldn’t be regulated by the NFA based on the letter of the existing law.
What’s worse is the suggestion that federal agencies should go rogue to make up regulations outside of the purview of the law. That sets up a super dangerous precedent. Whether you’re a fan of bump stocks or not, the last thing we want is a politically motivated ATF.