Saturday, October 21, 2017

Bump Fire Stocks

Everyone has come out with their opinions on bump fire stocks. I guess I am the last (probably not, as people are still arguing over it). Thought I would share mine. For those who don't know, a "bump fire stock" is a device that attaches to an "AR" style rifle - aka "Modern Sporting Rifle." It consists basically of a plastic guard to hold your finger in place and a spring to allow the gun to bounce back from recoil, into your finger. So instead of pulling the trigger, you push the gun forward, and as the gun bounces on the spring your finger activates the trigger multiple times.

A bump fire stock was used by the Las Vegas shooter to increase his rate of fire.

On the one hand...
  • There is no reasonable hunting use for bump fire stock.
  • It is gimmicky.
  • It is inaccurate.
On the other hand...
  • It is not a machine gun (more on that in a minute).
  • You don't need a special stock to bump-fire a gun.
    • It is trivial to rig up a device to bump fire a gun (see image above)
    • You can, with a little practice, do the same thing with no hardware whatsoever.
A number of people/organizations  have come out in favor of banning bump fire stocks (including the NRA), based on the first set of bullet (pun intended) items above. Those people/organizations are wrong. I am dead set (again pun intended) against banning bump fire stocks for the following reasons.
  • It is not a machine gun. Therefore it can't be banned based on the definition of "machine gun" but must be banned based on what it is, but on what it does. That's a very important distinction, because what it does is increases the "normal" rate of fire of a weapon. If you're going to ban anything that can increase the "normal" rate of fire, you have established a principle that will also ban lots of other things. For instance, a semi-auto action increases the rate of fire of a magazine fed gun - let's ban all semi-auto firearms! A heavier recoil spring (or even replacing a worn spring) increases the rate of fire of a firearm - let's regulate recoil spring repairs! Training increases the rate of fire of a firearm (exactly the same way as a bump fire stock, in fact, by enabling your finger to activate the trigger more quickly). Let's ban training!
  • Even if it were, machine guns shouldn't be banned. The ATF has the authority to ban machine guns under the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1930. That law was and is unconstitutional. It was upheld by the supreme court in 1938 because of a failure of the defendant to appear. I would dearly love to see this challenged in the supreme court today, as the reasoning behind the law is that machine guns (and certain other weapons) are not used by the military (which is clearly false).
Aside from the legal technicalities, the whole thing runs counter to the second amendment. There have been oceans of ink spilled over the whole issue of the second amendment, so my few drops shouldn't bother anyone. The intention of the second amendment is to make sure that private citizens had weapons equal to or superior to their government. Yes, you read that right.

In the Revolutionary War, the colonist prevailed, in part, because they had superior weapons. The British were equipped, for the most part, with smooth bore muskets. The reasoning of the British army was that such weapons were faster to load, and therefore the soldiers would have a higher rate of fire than their enemies. Many of the colonists had rifles. Rifles took 50% longer to load, but they were more accurate. So, in terms of fighting, the colonists could kill British soldiers at distances where the British could not return fire.

The founders who framed the second amendment were well aware of that, and also of what the colonists realized, and which is still true today. The greatest threat of murder comes not from your fellow citizens, but from your government. The greatest mass murders have been perpetrated by government over an unarmed population. Consider Nazi Germany, which disarmed its populace and proceeded to set up death camps. The Soviet Union, and the millions who died there, also unarmed. The Armenian Genocide - I could go on, but you (should) get the point. Yes, there are those who disagree, but there is no counter example to the rule that they can provide, it's all just opinion of what might have happened had things been different. The fact is that technology can make a 90 pound elderly woman able to defend her rights against a 220 pound attacker. To say that that doesn't make any difference is naive at best.

The wording of the second amendment is
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
In other words, the stated purpose of the right of the people to keep and bear arms is because a well regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state. Free citizens must have the ability to defend themselves effectively. Before you get hung up on the words "well regulated" and "militia" let me offer the following. George Mason, one of the delegates of the Constitutional Convention, said, in debate "That the people have a Right to mass and to bear arms; that a well regulated militia composed of the Body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper natural and safe defense of a free state, that standing armies, in time of peace, are dangerous to liberty, and therefore ought to be avoided."

You may disagree with his sentiment, but you cannot disagree that the sentiment was one held by many of the founders of our nation. Clearly the second amendment was included to support such a belief. Also, the word "regulated" has been (mis) interpreted to mean "under restrictions from government" but the usage here (which is still a definition today, but was the "main" definition at the time) was "to ensure accuracy of operation" - in other words, that the militia should be well trained.

You may disagree with the Constitution as well, and if so you are welcome to suggest and try to pass an amendment retracting the second amendment. It's been done before, with prohibition. But if you want to pass legislation that ignores the Constitution, you will come up against it at some point.

So, although I don't personally see a "need" for bump-fire stocks, and I agree they are gimmicky, I will not support such a ban, and urge others to examine the issue and make a decision to either amend or support the Constitution, not move towards a dictatorship by subverting the law itself.

The Boy Scouts

The Boy Scouts of America's stated goal is to help boys become men who are of good moral character and good patriotic citizens. For over one hundred years it has long held certain policies to support this goal; policies directly based on those principles of the organization. The Boy Scout oath is:
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. 
Because of that the scouts did not accept atheists (since they do not believe in God), presumably they would not accept traitors (duty to country) and those who hold principles contrary to morality. "What morality?" you may ask. It doesn't really matter. Whether you are Christian, Jew, Muslim, etc. pretty much every religion held to the same moral principles, since those moral principles were based on natural law.

The Boy Scouts of America has been sued over their membership policies numerous times, until in 2000 things came to a head in the supreme court, with the case "Boy Scouts of America v. Dale". In that case, the court confirmed that any private organization has a constitutional right to "freedom of association". In other words, the Boy Scouts have the right to exclude a person from membership when "the presence of that person affects in a significant way the group's ability to advocate public or private viewpoints". In a five to four decision, the Supreme Court ruled that opposition to homosexuality is part of BSA's "expressive message" and that allowing homosexuals as adult leaders would interfere with that message.

Think about that. The Boy Scout's opposition to homosexuality was, according to the supreme court, part of their "message."

Fast forward to 2013. The board of directors of the Boy Scouts of America decides that homosexual boys can be members. This is a fundamental abandonment of the core values of the organization. However, it was couched as "well, these boys are just confused, and cannot be held responsible for their sexuality, and we should help them." A noble goal, but help them to what, exactly? It was pointed out that any Boy Scout who engages in any sexual activity can be expelled form the organization, and that policy wouldn't change and so we're not talking "active" homosexual boys.

There are a number of things wrong with that statement, but ignoring that, it is still a fundamental abandonment of principle in favor of political correctness. At that point, in my opinion, the Boy Scouts ceased to exist.

Two years later, in 2015, the board decides to accept openly homosexual adult leaders. This directly invalidates their supreme court case, which was about not accepting openly homosexual adult leaders. If there is a clearer case of abandoning one's moral principles in favor of political correctness, I don't know what it would be.

Two years later, in 2017, the board announces that transgender "boys " (aka girls) would be accepted, and when that "flew," that all girls would be accepted (but only for Cub Scouts, for now). Two things are of note here, which have kept the organization from disbanding (which I believe it will in the next 20 years or so) and which have kept me from walking away.

First off, all of these decisions have been "optional." Each troop has a "chartering organization" that supports it. It is typically a town, or church, or some other group. All of these changes have been made at the national level, but accepting them has been made subject to the approval of the chartering organization, That means that the local Catholic church that charters the local troop can decide "no homosexuals" while the Episcopal church down the street can decide differently for the troop they charter. Doesn't this create disunity? You betcha! What does this mean, legally, for troops? It probably means that somewhere down the line they will have to go back and re-fight the "freedom of association" case, and since they are small and won't have the financial resources to fight it, they will lose.

Secondly, Boy Scouts exists for boys ages 10.5 to 17. When you turn 18 you are done. Announcing a change every two years is analogous to "boiling a frog." Each scout will only see a few changes, and will be gone. Over the next few years I expect to see even more changes, such as allowing atheists, allowing active sexual behavior, supporting abortion, etc. We've already seen that with the Girl Scouts, so it's not as big of a stretch as you might think.

May God help the Boy Scouts of America.