Gun Control

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's Proposed Bump Stock Ban Is Mostly Pointless

It's more about sending a message to Congress


Lorie Shaull/Flickr

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a plan yesterday to introduce local legislation banning the possession and sale of bump stocks in the nation's capital. The policy's net effect would be close to zero, however.

For one thing, D.C.'s longstanding assault weapons ban makes the great majority of firearms which can accept bump stocks—AR-15s, AK-47s, and their variants—already illegal to own or possess. Moreover, bump stocks operate on recoil, which you can't get without firing a gun. Guess what? Legally owned or not, firing a gun is also illegal within city limits, except in self defense.

Bowser's proposed ban would merely outlaw a part that helps an outlawed gun do an outlawed thing, faster.

So what's the point of banning bump stocks in D.C.?

When Congress gave the District limited autonomy to pass local laws in 1973, it reserved the power to review and veto the Council's decisions under most circumstances. When District law implicates issues of national political concern, such as abortion and marijuana prohibition (and, these days, gun control) Congress often intervenes to block the Council's typically-progressive maneuvers.

Local leaders generally resist this meddling, but in this case, they're actually hoping for it. Kevin Donahue, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, told The Washington Post that Bowser's administration hopes to force members of Congress to go "on the record" regarding bump stock prohibition, either letting the District's symbolic ban stand, or stepping in to veto it. "They could actively disapprove a bump stock ban, or they could tacitly approve," Donahue said. "Either way, they'll be on record."

Presumably, Donahue and Bowser want to force pro-gun politicians who have tentatively voiced approval of a bump stock ban to put their money where their mouth is, or not.

D.C., which has one of the strictest "state-level" gun control regimes in the country, had 116 homicides in 2017, of which 89 were fatal shootings. A spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Forensic Services, which processes illegal guns recovered by police, said that their office received 2,191 firearms last year, but could not say how many of those were rifles that would be capable of accepting a bump stock attachment. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, rifles of all kinds accounted for 3.27 percent* of gun homicides from 2011-2016.

*CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated that rifles accounted for 2.28 percent of gun homicides. They accounted for 2.28 percent of all homicides, and 3.27 percent of gun homicides.

NEXT: Jeff Sessions Backs Bump Stock Ban, Trump Names 2020 Campaign Chief, and Jared Kushner Has Security Clearance Downgraded: P.M. Links

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  1. A spokeswoman for the D.C. Department of Forensic Services, which processes illegal guns recovered by police, said that their office received 2,191 firearms last year, but could not say how many of those were rifles that would be capable of accepting a bump stock attachment.

    Emphasis added. “I don’t know that but I’ll get back to you”, or “You know I’m not permitted to discuss that”?

    1. It most certainly does NOT mean “researching that issue sounds too much like work and I’m going on break.”

    2. Let us not forget the likely option that they do not have the knowledge to make that sort of determination. They are just the D.C. Department of Forensic Services, not a real lab full of scientific experts qualified to testify is a court case.

  2. But Bowser said it should remain legal to cough up fireballs.

    1. Hello Paul,

      Thank you for the link.
      I had not realized that the license plates in D.C. had “taxation without representation” upon them. I think that “No Taxation Without Representation” is more appropriate given what I have read about a certain revolution that occurred somewhere on Earth…. If I recall correctly, this particular revolution seemed to involve an odd number of colonies and the British Empire.

      From the article to which you linked: “President Obama announced Tuesday that the District’s politically charged “taxation without representation” license plates will be placed on all presidential limousines this weekend, a move city leaders have been waiting on for four years.”


      1. Well, after a couple hundred years of experimentation, I am not so sure about taxation with representation. Turns out what is represented is mostly rich lobbyists.

  3. No it’s not, Reason. They don’t care about it’s effectiveness, all they want is one step closer to gun confiscation. At least the honest leftists will admit that.

    1. Reason didn’t write this article.

      1. Technically, Reason doesn’t write any of the articles.

      2. Surely you’re not suggesting that the articles are written by individuals with their own points of view, are you? That’s just crazy talk.

  4. LOL no one is going to take your bait you dumb bitch. If she actually believes that, people should vote her out of office for failing even DC standards of intelligence.

  5. but could not say how many of those were rifles that would be capable of accepting a bump stock attachment

    Considering the bump stock is, or can be, an exceedingly custom fabrication, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to question what percentage were semi-automatic and/or self-loading? If they’re unable to provide the numbers, it should really cast some serious shade on a forensics unit that’s collecting firearms but is incapable of determining their legality.

    Honestly, some real journalist should hold their feet to the fire over this. I’d guess they’re collecting lots of legal guns that they don’t want people knowing they don’t have to surrender; but even if they aren’t, all the people bitching about how “People can’t study gun violence!” should be beating down their doors with FOIA requests for public access to public data/information.

  6. banning the possession and sale of bump stocks in the nation’s capital

    Yeah, all the gun shops will go out of business now. Oh wait…

  7. Idjits. If they’d google up bump fire they’d realize there are numerous ways to bump fire any semi auto without any alterations or aids. Thumb in the belt loop one of the best.

  8. Gun control actions as posturing?

    Well, that’s novel.

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  10. “D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Proposed Bump Stock Ban Is Mostly Pointless”

    Which would be no different than anything else she has ever done in her life.

    1. It may be factually pointless, but not politically pointless, Which is the motivation for any of them to do anything.

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  12. How is it pointless to send congress a message? Isnt that what federalism is all about?

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