The battle over gun control laws has been raging since the Las Vegas shooting in 2017. The consequences reach much farther than the Second Amendment.
In 2017, Paul Ryan was Speaker of the House, while Nancy Pelosi was Minority Leader. After the Las Vegas shooting, Pelosi pressed Ryan to enter legislation banning bump stocks. Ryan balked. Pelosi suggested that Republicans might feel such a ban would be a “slippery slope” for other gun bills. “So what?” she said, adding, “I certainly hope so.”
Ryan insisted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) should ban bump stocks, since Congress banned the sale and manufacture of machine guns in 1986. However, the ATF had reviewed the issue of bump stocks and informed Congress since the items are not firearms, the ATF had no authority to ban or regulate them. Agencies can only enforce laws passed by Congress; agencies may not make laws.
Typical political deadlock!
- The Constitution gives the authority to make laws only to Congress.
- Democrats want to ban bump stocks, and hope it is the “slippery slope” to more gun restrictions.
- Republicans say bump stocks should be banned, but don’t want to go on record voting for the ban.
What’s worse than political deadlock?
Government over-stepping constitutional authority!
Overstep #1: The Trump administration, in December 2018, issued a sweeping new gun control regulation to ban bump stocks, grabbing for itself Congress’s exclusive right to make laws, by changing the legal definition of a machine gun. Even if you think bump stocks should be banned, this misuse of federal power should make every citizen fearful. What if the next “over-step” is something you DO care about?
Overstep #2: The new regulation said anyone with a bump stock after March 26, 2019, will be guilty of a felony. Bump stock owners were ordered to destroy or give them to the ATF before the deadline. Does it seem fair that a citizen can legally purchase an item, own it for years legally, and the government pass a law making it illegal? It is not only unfair, but forbidden by the United States Constitution in Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3: “No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed. “ An ex post facto law criminalizes acts retroactively, allowing people to be prosecuted for acts that weren’t illegal at the time they did them
Pelosi hoped banning bump stocks would be a “slippery slope” leading to more gun laws.
Instead, our federal government is ignoring the U.S. Constitution and existing federal law. I fear where this “slippery slope” will take us.
If we allow it.
What can we do to stop government over-stepping? I look forward to your comments.