This gun smells like cat butt. THANKS, OBAMA.

We have to admit we didn't see this one coming: The National Rifle Association has issued a statement indicating it might be cool with it if Congress votes to ban the sale of bump stocks, the devices that allowed the Las Vegas shooter to fire several semiautomatic rifles with a rate of fire that rivals automatic weapons. Given the NRA's never-budge-an-inch stance toward any regulations of firearms or ammunition, that's a heck of a surprise. Of course, the statement is very carefully written to make it clear the NRA is still absolutely opposed to gun control; it's just that on this one, they found a way to pretend this isn't regulation of a firearm, but of an accessory -- one that enabled the bloodiest mass shooting in modern history. The statement, by NRA head gunhumpers Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox, is very cannily crafted:

In the aftermath of the evil and senseless attack in Las Vegas, the American people are looking for answers as to how future tragedies can be prevented. Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control. Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks. This is a fact that has been proven time and again in countries across the world.

Got it? Gun control BAD! Liberty GOOD! Guns DOUBLEPLUSGOOD! You can't regulate evil, even though that's what most laws actually do -- regulate human behavior so we don't shit on the street or drive cars 85 miles per hour in a school zone while performing unlicensed surgery. But it seems like this time around, not even the NRA can come up with a rationale for devices that allow a semiautomatic rifle to spray lead like it's the battle of Guadalcanal. So hey, let's redefine a bump-stock as not-gun-control.

More importantly, LaPierre and Cox have found an out: They can blame Las Vegas on Barack Obama.

In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved. Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.

The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.

Clever, even if it's historically squishy -- the first ATF approval of a bump stock device came sometime prior to 2005 -- the year when ATF rescinded its approval of a bump stock it had initially said was OK (the final product used a spring to hasten the recoil action, while the prototype had no mechanical enhancement. Once the thing was reengineered to work via recoil only, ATF re-approved it). So no matter how often you hear "Barack Obama is responsible for this tragedy," no, he didn't tell the ATF to approve bump stocks. As the Christian Science Monitor explained ATF's logic a few years back, the boffins at ATF

have delineated a narrow line of legality based, in essence, on mechanics versus physics.

Assault-style weapons can't be mechanically customized to spray-fire, but a nonmechanical device that simply aids the shooter's own firing action remains on this side of legal, according to ATF.

ATF's logic was oddly similar to the NRA's: This is an accessory, not a firing mechanism, so we don't regulate that like an automatic weapon (or a kit to modify a semiautomatic rifle's innards to allow full auto fire -- also illegal). But if it's an accessory, then the NRA has an out: The Holy Second Amendment doesn't say anything about accessories, so maybe Congress could regulate a thing that isn't a firearm (but not magazine capacity, because if you limit that you'll make James Madison cry).

The NRA statement closes with the usual bafflegab about how guns, guns, guns are absolutely vital in "an increasingly dangerous world," so they remain resolute in their mission to protect the rights of all (white) Americans "to defend themselves, their families and their communities," so please make concealed-carry permits valid across all states, Kthxbai.

All in all, like most of the NRA's slickest propaganda, it's a pretty canny sales job: Rather than attempt to defend the indefensible by saying bump stocks are just good clean rapid-fire (but not automatic) fun, LaPierre and Cox are sidestepping the question by saying they don't see any gun here at all, so regulating bump stocks ain't gun control. In this one case, the NRA, Republicans, and Democrats may actually be able to set up overlapping fields of ire.

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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