Here’s why I applaud the ‘bump stock’ ordinance

I said this in a comment back on this thread, but I think it’s work elevating to a separate post. When our elected representatives do a good thing, however small, and do it in a way that is prompt, mature and respectful, that is worth a bit of applause, however much some of my friends here may scoff.

It’s easy to have contempt for the minimalist action action taken by Columbia City Council Tuesday regarding bump stocks. After all, what possible practical effect can it have? If someone uses a bump stock in a mass murder in Columbia, what will happen as a result of this ordinance? He’ll get a ticket?

But it’s hardly fair when you realize how little a municipality can do, and that other levels of government are doing nothing. I think you should consider the following:

  • There was widespread, bipartisan sentiment for banning bump stocks right after Las Vegas. It was remarkable, because all calls for limiting anything having to do with firearms on the federal level generally lead to nothing but a liberalizing of gun laws. Still, nothing happened this time, either.
  • Between the 2nd Amendment and a Legislature determined to keep local governments from making decisions for themselves, a municipal government’s power to act is extremely limited.
  • Within those extreme limits, Benjamin and the council decided to do what they could, in contrast to the paralysis in Washington.
  • They didn’t make an entirely empty gesture. They took an action, to the limits of their power, without trying to overstep that power.
  • They did so in an orderly, mature, deliberate manner, exhibiting reason and restraint that too many of us no longer expect from government. They did it without finger-pointing, name-calling, or bloviating. In other words, they set an example for how other levels of government should function. By doing so, they made a case for a good cause — subsidiarity. They suggest by their mature, restrained actions that maybe MORE decisions should be made on the local level. (Note this headline: “<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>Columbia, South Carolina, Bans Bump Stocks, Since Congress Won’t</a>.”)

In this degraded, hostile, dysfunctional political atmosphere in which nothing good happens but a lot of ill-will is created along the way, I think the way this was handled was admirable.

Bud and Doug will scoff: Form instead of function! Mere words! But this is the stuff of civilization, without which we descend to the level of deranged beasts. And I think that makes it worth giving the mayor an attaboy.

A shorter version of the above:

The council has said, “We can’t do much, but we’re going to do what we can, and we’re going to act like grownups doing it.” These days, that’s progress…

5 thoughts on “Here’s why I applaud the ‘bump stock’ ordinance

  1. Richard

    What will this BumpStock ordinance accomplish? One thing…

    2026 SC District 6 US Representative Race: “Steve Benjamin, as mayor of Columbia pushed through the first BumpStock ordinance in the United States”…. that’s all it’ll accomplish. A campaign bullet point.

  2. bud

    I’m not going to scoff this time. Although only symbolic this could be the way to jump start the conversation about gun violence. Apparently homicide, suicide, car crashes and the opioid epidemic are responsible for back to back declines in life expectancy in the USA for the first time since the early 60s. This goes counter to what’s happening in the rest of the world. For some reason the American people are pursuing activities that increase the risk of dying at a young age. Another factor is poor access to healthcare services.

  3. JesseS

    What I don’t get is why so many are determined to keep them. As a gun owner, most of the people I know who have purchased them, bought them thinking “Well, I might as well get it since they are likely to be banned any day now when some crazy idiot goes on a shooting rampage…”, used them once, realized they were frivolous toys that eat up ammo, and put them back in the box. Why insist on that?

    For me getting rid of bump stocks was the perfect opportunity for us guns owners to behave like responsible adults, but of course that is asking too much.

    Instead, what do I hear? “Well, you can just use your belt loop, so this changes nothing!”. Tell that to Stephen Paddock.

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