This week, President Trump banned bump stocks, devices used to enable a semi-automatic rifle such as an AR-15 to simulate full-automatic operation. Not Congress. Not a passel of anti-gun Democrats and/or a cohort of squishy Republicans. President Trump, who has long touted himself as a believer in gun rights.

Trump might be said to have bowed to popular demand on this particular matter, but this “art of the deal” pro-gun genius didn’t get anything in return for this ban. He didn’t use it as a bargaining chip to game a vote that would restore or protect legal gun owners in other ways, he just enacted a useless infringement of our rights unilaterally, via administrative wordsmithing.

A whole lot of people had never heard of bump stocks before a madman used one in a shooting rampage to murder 58 people in Las Vegas, despite the heavy national reporting and publicity that every significant mass shooting incident garners. Why? Because, apart from this one event, they’ve been a non-issue in crime. And, even in this horrific incident, they did nothing to worsen the crime (in fact, most experts agree they reduced the shooter’s effectiveness and body count).

None of this is relevant, though, because media misinformation (and possibly disinformation) stoked public outcry and a demand that “something be done.” That something is a useless infringement of our rights. Useless, not only because bump stocks make shooters less accurate, but because they are simply hunks of plastic that can easily be made with 3D printers, and easily emulated with something as simple as a rubber band. And, because the new rule requires that existing owners either destroy or turn in their bump stocks within 90 days, violates not only the Second Amendment, but also the Fifth Amendment’s Takings clause.

I can hear the excuses now. They’ll range from “no one needs,” to “reasonable regulation,” to “give the anti-gun crowd something to appease them.” None are connected to reality, but reality doesn’t matter. This ban will do nothing to make us safer. As noted, it’s generally accepted by people with a clue that bump stocks are not a lethality increaser. And, even if they are, or if someone of a criminal bent thinks they are, the ban is easily circumvented.

Two years ago, I outlined a set of hopes and fears for the Trump presidency. Some of both have materialized, with 2017 being the year of hope-actualization and 2018 being the year of fear-actualization, but I missed on my hope for positive movement on gun rights, which should have been a fear that he’d abandon gun owners. All we got so far is this useless gesture and a missed opportunity to horse-trade for legislation that would expand and protect our already-infringed gun rights.

Finally, because I know how Trump’s blind defenders cannot brook a single criticism of the Untethered Orange Id without engaging in whataboutism, unless and until some positive development on gun rights actually materializes (that includes the Court, which keeps dodging gun cases), save it. A Clinton presidency would have done some nibbling around the edges of gun rights, but gun control has been a loser of an issue for the Dems for at least a quarter century, and under a Clinton presidency we’d probably have a Republican House majority in 2020, probably not be witnessing the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party, and probably not have to fear that the next President will be a hard-core leftist with a massive gun-control agenda.

Doll it up however you like, it remains that Trump has betrayed gun owners and gun rights advocates with this move, and got nothing in return.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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