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EDITORIAL: Amend law to fix 'bump stock' loophole

By: The Gazette editorial board
October 6, 2017 Updated: October 6, 2017 at 7:34 am
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America's founders did not create the Second Amendment so we could hunt ducks. The law ensures our right to keep and bear arms for self-defense against tyranny and crime. Everything important has limits, including gun rights.

We have the right to express outrageous, scandalous and hateful beliefs. We have the right assemble in political protest. We have the right to advocate revolution. None of this can be done with the intent to cause or incite imminent physical harm.

The Supreme Court created a right to abortion, but allowed restrictions on gestation that 43 states exercise.

All rights have limits enforced by personal restraint and/or force of law.

A Second Amendment with no externally imposed limits would allow anyone, of any age and with any criminal rap sheet, to stockpile shoulder-launched surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles and more. Visualize some unhinged billionaire physicist with a Second Amendment right to create a personal nuclear bomb.

The 73rd Congress imposed reasonable regulation of gun rights with the National Firearms Act of 1934. The law imposes an excise tax on the manufacture and transfer of fully automatic weapons, commonly known as machine guns. It requires federal registration of machine guns. The slow, methodical and expensive permit process involves an extensive background investigation of each applicant.

The Firearm Owners' Protection Act of 1986 forbids the sale of machine guns, manufactured after the law's enactment, to civilians.

None of that stopped the multimillionaire maniac who committed the Las Vegas massacre this week. He used a loophole and achieved rapid-fire machine gun simulation by adding cheap, easily accessible "bump stocks" to his weapons collection.

No law was likely to stop this wealthy mass murderer from having his way. He had the financial means to obtain nearly any black market item imaginable. A man of his means can contract the custom construction of weapons. Some forces of evil are too formidable for laws and law enforcers to enjoin 100 percent of the time.

That does not mean we should neglect taking action to prevent some other lunatic from going online and spending a few bucks to circumvent reasonable regulations of gun rights codified in the National Firearms Act and the Firearms Owners' Protection Act.

Gazette reporters Ellie Mulder and Liz Forster contacted a variety of area gun sellers this week and found negligible support for the sale of bump stocks or other devices that facilitate similar results.

"We don't sell junk like that," said an employee of Sportman's Warehouse.

Paul Paradis, owner of Paradise Sales, is known regionally as an uncompromising defender of Second Amendment rights. He criticized bump stocks. "A bump stock is something you can use to just spray a lot of bullets," Paradis said.

A 14-month employee at Cabela's in Lone Tree had not heard of bump stocks until the Las Vegas massacre. One local store that sells bump stocks reported a disturbing run on the product that began with news reports of their use in Las Vegas. Republicans have an admiral track record of defending the Second Amendment against unreasonable attacks. They would do their cause and their party's brand a favor by leading a charge to carefully amend the National Firearms Act. Eliminate the loophole created by conversion products known as "junk" to serious firearms professionals.

This is not a hill the NRA and other staunch Second Amendment supporters should die on, if they want to protect the right to keep and bear common semi-automatic rifles. The NRA announced Thursday they will not fight restrictions on bump stocks. All gun rights advocates should be reasonable, by keeping Second Amendment rights within boundaries of common sense, decency and the spirit of laws that have served us well for decades.

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