The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives has received tens of thousands of comments from Americans opposed to new regulations on bump stocks.
Following the shooting tragedy in Las Vegas, in which a bump stock was reportedly used, ATF officials asked Americans for comment on possible regulations on the firearm accessories. The agency didn’t propose any specific regulations ahead of the comment period, but respondents made clear that they are opposed to any efforts that would make bump stocks illegal.
The gun control advocacy publication The Trace said of the comments:
The Trace downloaded the text of more than 32,000 of the comments and used computer scripts to parse and analyze them. The comments overwhelmingly opposed regulating bump stocks. Only 13 percent were in support of the proposal to regulate the devices. (Another 2 percent didn’t express a clear stance.)
The results of our analysis showcase a paradox of the gun debate. While widespread public support exists for many gun regulations and policies — from bump stocks to background checks — pro-gun advocates are significantly more active than their counterparts when it comes to engaging politicians and government agencies.
Twenty percent of the comments mirrored a form letter promoted by the Gun Owners of America, which opposes the regulation. Of those supporting ATF regulation, the majority of form letter submissions — a little over 6 percent of the total — came from a letter generated by the Giffords Law Center. An additional 2 percent of comments consisted of form letters promoted by other organizations.
The majority of comments — 72 percent, or about 23,000 — were unique responses written by individuals. To estimate the stances of these opinions, The Trace pulled a random sample of 1,000 submissions and labeled them as being for or against the regulation of bump stocks. Of the comments included in the sample, roughly 89 percent were written in opposition to the regulation, and 9 percent in support. The composition of the sample enabled us to extrapolate the makeup of all 23,000 pro- and anti-regulation unique comments: 64 percent against, and 6 percent in favor.
In other words, pro-2nd Amendment organizations are helping to push back against knee-jerk gun control efforts.
“I thank every Second Amendment supporter who left a pro-gun comment. As GOA has repeatedly warned, bump stock regulations are not only about bump stocks; if bump stocks are regulated, then triggers, magazines, and semi-automatic firearms that allegedly ‘increase the rate of fire’ are at risk of regulation or bans as well,” Erich Pratt, executive director for Gun Owners of America, said in a statement following the analysis.