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This Week in Gun Rights is TTAG’s weekly roundup of legal, legislative and other news affecting guns, the gun business and gun owners’ rights. 

The Tommybuilt T36: Machinegun or ATF mess?

Courtesy Tommybuilt Tactical

We’ve seen a lot of buzz over the last week over the Tommybuilt T36. All we really have to go on, so far, is the post on his website asking users to send their guns back to be re-jiggered…for a $225 fee. No official documents have been released yet, and the story is a heck of a tale.

Apparently the ATF paid Tommybuilt a visit, flip flopping in the typical regulatory agency fashion. You see, Tom Bostic’s T36 is based on H&K’s own semi-auto lockout design used by them in the civilian SL8. ATF had long ago approved this design…until they suddenly didn’t.

The story goes that ATF agents, armed with a T36, an HK G36 full auto fire control group and other unobtanium full auto G36 parts, and a hammer, were able to modify and force feed the T36 full auto components. Whether they actually got it to fire is another thing, but that apparently was enough for the agency to start bullying Bostic.

Being a small business, Tommybuilt felt it was easier to accept some changes and roll with it rather than risk the time suck and cost of being tied up in litigation. It’s truly a sad state of affairs when ATF can bully smaller players into compliance, and the big players are generally insufficiently motivated to fight these arbitrary abuses of authority.

The way I read this situation, there is, and ought not be, anything wrong with the T36. It was deliberately designed to be a semi-auto firearm, and thus has no business being considered “readily restored” or “designed” to fire automatically.

This looks like yet another clear abuse of arbitrary regulatory authority that this industry desperately needs to see reigned in.

AI-Controlled guns, but not the cool kind

artificial intelligence digital smart gun
Shutterstock

A group of researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York recently published a paper detailing the potential for AI intervention to prevent mass shootings: a so called “ethical lockout.” The proposition seems to be that, through a bunch of sensors and algorithms, “smart guns” could determine whether or not a firearm was being used for proper purposes, and disable the trigger when the firearm rules out self-defense.

The use case theorized in the article is as follows regarding a shooter driving to a Walmart to engage in violent crime:

At Walmart itself, in the parking lot, any attempt on the part of the would-be assailant to use his weapon, or even position it for use in any way, will result in it being locked out by the AI. In the particular case at hand, the AI knows that killing anyone with the gun, except perhaps e.g. for self-defense purposes, is unethical. Since the AI rules out self-defense, the gun is rendered useless, and locked out.

It continues, belching up oft-cited yet misleading statistics on firearm casualties, concluding that . . .

If the AI could be developed in such a way that it would only allow users to fire in ethical situations such as self defense, while at a firing range, or in designated legal hunting areas, thousands of lives could be saved every year.

Of course, as even the researchers admit, this is a “blue sky” proposition, one that’s most certainly not in the cards any time soon. Still, it’s nice to see people are at least openly talking about the absurd depths of their ambitions, providing a clear counter-example to those who claim that paranoid gun owners are arguing the slippery slope fallacy.

The technology certainly doesn’t exist to accurately gauge a person’s intent, but the technology certainly does exist to completely render our firearms useless. To some of these people, it seems, that might be more of a feature than a bug.

Anti-Gunners want to keep public transportation users disarmed

commuter bus public transportation
Shutterstock

There’s a bill in the Missouri state senate to remove the state’s prohibition on lawfully carrying a firearm while using public transportation. The editors of the Kansas City Star seem to think it’s a “risk proposition that lawmakers should soundly reject.”

To any rational observer, prohibiting the lawful carry of arms on public transport seems a calculated way to disarm the poor, as there’s no evidence of lawful carriers posing a unique risk when on a train or bus. How the editorial board of the Kansas City Star can argue for this continued prohibition with a straight face is beyond me.

ICE Agent’s P320 Lawsuit

P320 X-Five Legion (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)
P320 X-Five Legion (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)

SIG SAUER is facing a lawsuit from ICE agent Keith Slatowski, who claims his P320 discharged on its own while he was training at a government firing range, striking his hip and thigh.

Many have been quick to dogpile on the P320 based on its infamous early drop-fire defect, but I can’t personally see how this discharge could be related to that. As I understand it, dropping or striking the gun transferred enough energy to the trigger bar to actually “pull” the trigger and drop the sear. This incident, it seems, happened on-the-draw.

That’s not to say it isn’t possible that this particular firearm may have had a unique defect, but the discharge sounds more like it’s due to negligent firearms handling than negligent firearms design, at least to this observer.

MidwayUSA Selects New CEO

Replacing the well-known and very meme-worthy Larry Potterfield, Matt Fleming is being promoted to CEO. Larry Potterfield will remain as Chairman of the board of the Missouri retailer.

Fleming has been on board for years, and apparently has been tremendously successful, earning the personal endorsement of Potterfield. We can only hope Potterfield will remain on video.

New Special Prosecutor in McCloskey Case

St. Louis McCloskey Kim Gardner
Mark and Patricia McCloskey (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP, File)

Following all the clear nonsense in the classic case of the lawn defenders, a new special prosecutor has been appointed, who promises to start with a “clean slate.”

Instances like this, where clear political motivations drive charging and prosecutorial decisions, highlight serious problems with our criminal justice system. Individual political ambitions share nothing with the just application of law, and in fact may be counterproductive to it.

It is the duty of the criminal justice system, at every level, to administer justice neutrally and with adherence to the Constitution.

North Carolina Considering Loosening Prohibition on Church Carry

West Freeway Church Shooting Texas
In this still frame from livestreamed video provided by law enforcement, churchgoers take cover while a congregant armed with a handgun, top left, engages a man who opened fire, near top center just right of windows, during a service at West Freeway Church of Christ, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, in White Settlement, Texas. (West Freeway Church of Christ/Courtesy of Law Enforcement via AP)

The North Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee has issued a favorable report for Senate Bill 43, which would expand the ability of citizens to carry while attending religious services.

I’ve been routinely shocked at how many states, many of them in the American south, prohibit carry in houses of worship. It’s one of the first phenomenon I wrote about, the way an orthodoxy against carrying defensive arms into houses of worship seemed to inexplicably materialize somewhere between the founding and today.

All faiths have their uniquities, and it ought be on the directors of each house of worship to decide whether or not their flock members can carry…not the members of a part-time state legislature.



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