Courts reject bans on arm braces, bump stocks

Ross Bielema

It’s easy to look the other way when someone else loses something you have no use or need for.

It’s easy to suggest we all drive electric cars or ban V-8 motors if you don’t already own three or four gas-powered vehicles and don’t appreciate muscle cars or the pure fun of a drag race.

It’s easy to oppose protests, speech or books that disagree with our own viewpoints, especially if they are extreme to us.

If you don’t own any guns or even understand the difference between a rifle and a shotgun or a bullet from a cartridge, it’s easy to want to ban bump stocks, pistol arm braces and high-capacity magazines or AR-15-style rifles.

Fortunately for us, we live in America and have a constitution that, at least in theory, will protect us from tyranny. In practice, it takes the courts to interpret and enforce the constitution.

Gun owners have had an amazing winning streak in recent years, and especially the past few weeks. But even if you hate guns, most of these rulings are a victory for all of us.

Let’s look at a few of these decisions and try to explain what some of these strange gun-related items actually are.

The Second Amendment of the Constitution has nothing to do with hunting or what type of guns you “need.” Scholars tell us, in the context of the times, that our forefathers wanted to make sure no tyrannical government like the one they just defeated had a chance to again rule over the armed citizens.

The right to keep and bear arms “shall not be infringed” seems crystal clear to most of us. I strongly believe that our forefathers might already be taking up arms in light of the estimated 50,000 gun laws nationwide. Some states have taken it far, far beyond so-called “commonsense” gun laws.

Illinois banned about 1,000 models of firearms in 2023, including some .22 rifles. Citizens were given the option to turn them over to the state police (they were not allowed to sell them, even though the state doesn’t own them) but could use them on their own property and register them by Jan. 1.

Of the more than 2 million Illinois residents with a Firearms Owners Identification Card (required to own or even use a gun or ammo), only 24,000 have registered their illegal guns. Cops in the big cities keep warning citizens they are breaking the law while the sheriffs in most rural counties assure citizens they will not enforce this clearly unconstitutional law by going door-to-door to collect them.

It’s hard to imagine that America is now the land of the semi-free in some states, but it’s fact.

“Nobody needs an AR-15,” the liberal whine starts. President Joe Biden and his ilk call them “weapons of war.”

If you’ve been to Chicago lately (I haven’t, and won’t), you’ll notice that dozens of people are being killed every weekend. While the NRA and conservatives have advocated adding 5-20 years to the sentence of anyone using a gun in a crime, the anti-police libs have created policies that turn gangbangers loose in many cases without posting bond (

If faced with an attack in your home, at a business or even on the street, having more rounds to protect you makes sense. That’s why most cops carry an AR-style carbine (normally with select-fire options) and so-called high-capacity semi-auto pistols on their hips. You don’t want a single-shot for self-defense.

The Supreme Court has ruled that firearms in common use by the public have the most legal protection of all from government infringement, and AR-15 rifles are among the most popular. Punish criminals and leave the millions of honest Americans with guns alone.

AR-15 pistols have become popular, too, and in 2012, the arm brace for them was invented. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms ruled that arm braces on AR-15 pistols were legal and did not constitute a short-barreled rifle (the latter fall under National Firearms Act regulations and require a $200 tax stamp).

In January 2023, Biden’s attorney general signed an ATF final rule that contradicted 11 years of arm brace acceptance and required most styles to be removed or have their owners register them as a short-barreled rifle by May 2023.

Since these firearms were made as pistols and the ATF ruling now classified them as short-barreled rifles, a Texas federal judge in March disagreed and said gun parts like arm braces do not convert a pistol into a rifle.

Bump stocks are another clever invention that most shooters don’t own or use. That doesn’t mean it should be banned, as it was in 2017 after a mass shooter is believed to have used one.

Automobiles have been used through the decades for a variety of crimes, from getaway cars by John Dillinger to the parade attacker in 2021 in Waukesha who killed six and injured 62 with an SUV, but nobody’s suggesting we ban them.

A bump stock simply allows a semi-automatic rifle to bump forward and backward rapidly, approaching full-auto speed. Although it might be fun for an afternoon at the range, it certainly doesn’t lend itself to accurate shooting.

Instead of going after guns with specific designs, like Illinois tried, why don’t we start punishing criminals for using firearms during crimes like law enforcement and the NRA have been seeking for decades?

Ross Bielema is a freelance writer from New London and owner of Wolf River Concealed Carry LLC. Contact him at