The Truth About Bump Stocks

There exists a fundamental human right: self-defense. This right is every bit as important and primary as the right to freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Without self-defense, criminals and evildoers would destroy individual lives, families, and societies. The nation exercises self-defense in a just war. The community exercises self-defense by means of its police officers. Individuals exercise self-defense when imminent bodily injury or death is near.

The right to bear arms is derived from the right to self-defense. As a derived right, it is secondary, and therefore admits of greater restrictions than a fundamental right. (And fundamental rights should only be restricted according to the natural limits of the right, such as that violent threats are not part of free speech.)

The right to bear arms is also derived from the right to the pursuit of happiness, in so far as some persons enjoy target shooting or hunting, they should be permitted to engage in those activities. But the right to self-defense is of greater weight.

A free society should not deprive its citizens of the means to self-defense without due and grave cause. And if society would be more secure if citizens were utterly deprives of this right, we should choose the less secure path, as being more conducive to freedom. No society can be free without enduring risks and dangers.

Bump stocks increase the rate of fire of a rifle, at the expense of accuracy. The increased rate of fire also varies greatly. The loss of accuracy makes the device unsuitable for self-defense. The bullets might miss the intended target, an assailant, and hit an innocent bystander instead. And the high rate of fire expends rounds too quickly, perhaps using up the available ammunition before the threat is contained. Bump stocks do not fall under the right to self-defense, since they are unsuitable for that purpose.

Neither the military, nor law enforcement have any interest in using bump stocks. The loss of accuracy and the uncertain rate of fire make the device unfit for defending community or nation.

As concerns hunting, bump stocks are illegal to use, as they are a rapid fire device. It would be inhumane to kill animals with a bump stock or a fully-automatic firearms. They are also unsuitable for hunting due to the loss of accuracy.

The only real lawful purpose of bump stocks is shooting at a range or in an open area of land. But even then, the lack of accuracy limits the practicality of target shooting as well.

The reason for the ban on bump stocks is the perverse usefulness of the device for mass murder, as occurred in the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. The device allows the perpetrator to spray bullets at a crowd of innocent persons.

Given the danger from this unlawful use, and the almost total lack of lawful purposes for the device, banning bump stocks is not a violation of the right to bear arms, nor of the right to self-defense.

Why, then, are gun rights activists against a ban? They are afraid that it is the beginning of a process that will eventually take away the guns that are useful for self-defense, hunting, and target shooting.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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2 Responses to The Truth About Bump Stocks

  1. Guest says:

    Does the Church teach that humans have the right to adequate food, shelter and clothing? I am not talking fine dining or anything, but just these things as basics? It appears the entire economic system is set up so that governments care about economic growth rather than the good of society. I mean, if you don’t pursue material wealth you cannot live. It’s not so much that you care to be wealthy as much as you care not to die by not helping bosses make money. If you did care about raising your living standards then you would seek excess money to buy things. But on the whole I don’t think humans have a consumer mentality naturally. Some people just want to be happy or wise, not rich. The entire world economy runs on the consumption of material goods.

    Sorry for going off topic. Your discussion on the right to defend yourself made me wonder if humans had the right to the basics necessary for survival.

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