FPC: Calif. Attorney General Becerra’s ‘bump stock’ press release “disingenuous at best and probably illegal”

SACRAMENTO, CA (October 23, 2017) — In response to an October 19th news release from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, wherein he proclaimed gun parts like “bump stocks” to be illegal without any statutory authority, Firearms Policy Coalition (FPC) is firing back, calling his statements “disingenuous at best and probably illegal.”

“Not only is Attorney General Becerra’s so-called ‘news release’ inaccurate and misleading,” said FPC President Brandon Combs, “it is almost certainly an illegal underground regulation.”

The State’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL), the agency which oversees the regulatory process, says on its Web site that if “a state agency issues, utilizes, enforces, or attempts to enforce a rule without following the APA when it is required to, the rule is called an ‘underground regulation’.” OAL continues: “State agencies are prohibited from enforcing underground regulations.”

“If the Attorney General and his Department of Justice [DOJ] would like to regulate ‘bump stocks’ they may attempt to do so through the normal process that requires public comment and oversight,” explained Combs.

“This appears to be one more example of the Attorney General and his anti-gun DOJ banning guns and gun parts by executive fiat rather than following the rule of law and the constitutions he swore an oath to uphold.”

Penal Code § 32900 states that unless otherwise exempted from the law, any person who possesses, makes, lends, gives, or sells “any multiburst trigger activator” can be punished by a misdemeanor or a felony (sometimes called a “wobbler”), potentially including jail or prison time. But Penal Code § 16930 defines a “multiburst trigger activator” as either a “device designed or redesigned to be attached to a semiautomatic firearm, which allows the firearm to discharge two or more shots in a burst by activating the device” (16930(a)) or a “manual or power-driven trigger activating device constructed and designed so that when attached to a semiautomatic firearm it increases the rate of fire of that firearm” (16930(b)).

A ‘bump stock’ does not appear to do either of those things, FPC noted. “And in the final analysis, a semi-automatic firearm is a semi-automatic firearm,” said Combs. “The ‘rate of fire’ of a semi-automatic firearm is, and always will be, simply one shot fired per engagement of the trigger” – whether that action is performed by the pull of a person’s finger or the pulling action of some manual or power-driven trigger activating device.

Accordingly, FPC said, the very statutory authority that the DOJ has cited in support of this “news release” is itself subject to serious challenge as unconstitutional, for encouraging arbitrary and discriminatory application in the vagueness of its terms.

This clearly heightens FPC’s real concerns about the DOJ’s underground regulatory activity here.

Concluded Combs, “FPC’s legal counsel are reviewing this issue and has been instructed to take legal action as necessary to protect California gun owners from Attorney General Becerra’s long and hostile reach. Becerra should spend more time reading the law and less time dreaming up new ways to attack gun owners.”

Firearms Policy Coalition (www.firearmspolicy.org) is a 501(c)4 grassroots nonprofit organization. FPC’s mission is to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the fundamental, individual Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.

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