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Uh, Excuse Me Senator, What You Just Said About Bump Stocks Was A Straight Lie

AP Photo/Elise Amendola

Okay, PolitiFact, you may have flagged my story about the media being silent about 18 migrants dying under the custody of border enforcement authorities under the Obama administration; they thought we had said 18 children, which would’ve been inaccurate—but that really wasn’t an issue because that’s made clear in our headline. These fact checkers obviously didn’t read the post. But a blind squirrel eventually finds a nut, and in this case, Politifact did well in calling out Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) for peddling a total lie about the bump stock ban in order to attack President Trump. The Trump White House moved to ban the accessory. There is no grandfathering. Bump stocks are illegal and totally banned. Gilly said they weren’t, which earned her a “pants on fire” rating for that remark (via Politifact):


In the June 2 town hall, Gillibrand said, "Stop being beholden to the (National Rifle Association), like President Trump is. … Remember after the shooting in Las Vegas, he said, ‘Yeah, yeah, we’re going to ban the bump stocks.’ Did he ban the bump stocks? No, because the NRA came crashing down and said, ‘Don’t you dare do any restrictions on our guns around this country.’"

A reader asked us to fact-check Gillibrand’s statement. We found that Gillibrand’s statement flagrantly disregarded the facts. Asked in the town hall about how to curb mass shootings, her answer was to attack — incorrectly — an instance in which Trump actually accomplished a goal that gun critics had sought, and where the administration directly disregarded the NRA, which had opposed an all-out ban.

Bump stocks are now illegal in the United States, and it’s directly because of actions by the Trump administration. "The senator is wrong," said Harold Corzine, a University of Central Florida sociologist who has studied gun policy.


The final rule was published on Dec. 18, 2018, with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announcing that bump stocks "fall within the definition of ‘machine gun’ under federal law, as such devices allow a shooter of a semiautomatic firearm to initiate a continuous firing cycle with a single pull of the trigger."


The Firearms Policy Coalition and individual pro-gun critics (but not the NRA) challenged the new rule in court, but the critics of the ban lost at the U.S. District Court level in February 2019. The following month, the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, allowing the ban to go into effect.

The penalty for owning a bump stock is now up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine per violation.


Now, this was a lie. It was a pathetic attempt to attack the president. It was all of those things. At the same time, while bump stocks aren’t all that practical—most regard them as novelties, a fun item to use at the range; it’s the principle of the matter. You never give an inch to the anti-gun Left. You don’t dare cede anything to Democrats in general, but especially the anti-gunners because they will then take several thousand miles. We must hold the line on Second Amendment rights. Even when supporters of gun rights are in power, it doesn’t mean they can’t make very bad policy decision choices. I think I said at the time that while not optimal, this is something we could stomach in light of what the Democratic Party wants to enact concerning gun control. Well, now that most on the 2020 Democratic field is peddling straight up confiscation, bans, and even jailing law-abiding gun owners—I probably should’ve heeded my own words. Now, we have President Trump trashing suppressors. Again, not readily available for civilian use (you need to apply for the NFA tax stamp), it doesn’t make guns undetectable, and it doesn’t make them totally silent. This isn’t ‘Men in Black.’ But any more to crack down on them should be opposed. Gillibrand was wrong, but in retrospect, so was the Trump White House, which seemed more than willing to offer something to congressional Democrats when they didn’t need to; it’s not like this move on bump stocks would curry favor with them. And it hasn’t. 


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