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May 14, 2018

More Than a Bump Stock Ban

Jason Miller

I was clicking on my Facebook news feed when I ran across an ABC News story headline. “ATF can't save bump stock owners from Maryland ban.” It was by Victor Ordonez and Dylan Goetz of ABC.

 

Curious, I read the story. It does not flatter our Annapolis lawmakers – Democrat or Republican. The story opens with: “The State of Maryland has stumbled across a novel way to satisfy gun-control opponents: create a licensing process that cannot be put into practice.”

 

I have followed the steady downward spiral of Second Amendment rights in Maryland since 2013. It started with the Maryland assault weapons ban sponsored by our now Attorney General Brian Frosh with the nodding approval of then Gov. Martin O’Malley.

 

Vincent DeMarco, president of Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, promised in at those hearings  in 2013 that the Firearms Safety Act would usher in a Utopia of gun free violence in Maryland. Now bump stocks are to blame for everything under the sun. So be it. The Bump Stock Bill passed will usher in a new era. Right? Yes… Yes it will.

 

ABC News reported last Thursday that the bump stocks, and “rapid-fire trigger activators,” owned by Maryland’s law-abiding citizens can’t keep them through a special dispensation from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) as stated in the law. The ATF is not able to distribute or official participate in Maryland’s Bump Stock Law.

 

According to ABC News, this is because the ATF has: “No process or authority to offer that dispensation and, indeed, was never even told of the Maryland law.”

 

Maryland residents could have kept their already purchased bump stocks had they applied for ATF dispensation by Oct. 1, 2019. That date is when the new state law takes effect. As it stands now, law-abiding bump stock owners will never get the ATF authorization and will be in violation of the law. The law abiding citizens, who have not thrown out or turned in their bump stocks after the law takes effect, face a maximum penalty of three years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.

 

Del. Lewis Moon, the Montgomery County Democrat who championed the law, confessed to ABC News that the ATF application clause was added to appease Republicans in opposition to the law. The Republicans insisted that the original bill needed a grandfather clause, but Democrats won over Republicans with the ATF dispensation application as a compromise.

 

I don’t own a bump stock. I don’t need one. I don’t want one. My life is still the same now that the bill has passed just as it was before the bill passed.

 

This is not about me, though. This is about the law-abiding bump stock owners who have been denied due process. The ATF dispensation compromise was a hoax. It has now potentially created criminals from law abiding gun owners. Neither Republicans nor Democrats cared much about these people, but more about their political image in an election year.

 

If Republican lawmakers had cared about their constituents, they would have taken the time to pick up the phone and call the ATF. Someone should have called the ATF to find out how the dispensation permits would work. Republicans didn’t even know to what they had agreed.

 

I am disappointed because no one from either the House or the Senate talked to the ATF. They were either incredibly lazy, incredibly careless, or, at the very least, incredibly naive.

 

As a proud Republican, I am rendered ashamed by this hoax compromise. Good people are potentially going to wake up as criminals unless a judge recognizes this error and fixes it before the law takes effect.

 

No Republican from either the House or the Senate contacted the ATF before the bill was passed to see if the compromise was possible. Now good people are facing a criminal record for doing something that was legal at the time the bump stock was purchased.

 

I wanted to write an open letter to all the delegates and senators in Frederick County who voted for the bump stock ban to defend their negligence in voting for a bill with a compromise that was a lie. A bill that now creates criminals out of the law abiding.

 

This is about a law that now, given the new information being reported; steals property lawfully and legally obtained before the law was passed and sentences up to three years in prison, a $5,000 fine or both. To me, it’s not about the bump stocks.

 

It’s about the people who are next in line if this becomes the fashion of Maryland State government. If the General Assembly passes laws that cannot provide the due process the Constitution requires, we all need to be concerned.

 

[Editor’s Note: Voting for the final version of this bill (Senate Bill 707) Senator Ron Young of the 3rd District. And in the House of Delegates; Carol Krimm, Karen Lewis Young of the 3rd District; and Kathy Afzali and David Vogt of the 4th District.].

 



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