Could last week’s deadly terror attack in Las Vegas actually be the thing that finally breaks the elephant’s back?
Thanks to the gun lobby, Congress did nothing meaningful to curb our gun violence after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Conn. in 2012, despite former President Barack Obama’s pleas.
A mass shooting is defined as an incident where four or more people, not including gunmen, are shot. Data from the Gun Violence Archive reports there is a mass shooting on average every nine out of ten days in America.
One of the factors that allowed Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock to murder 59 people and injure 241 was the modifications he made to his firearms.
“Bump stocks,” also called “slide fire” devices, “bump” a semi-automatic weapon’s trigger to increase its firing rate, essentially converting it to an automatic weapon.
Now Congressional Republicans, considered to be in the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) pocket, are considering legislation to ban them, although no Republican has yet joined Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and over two dozen Democrats in endorsing a bill they presented Wednesday.
“Bump stocks — which cost less than $200 — increase a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire from between 45 to 60 rounds per minute to between 400 to 800 rounds per minute. That’s the same rate of fire as automatic weapons. The only reason to modify a gun is to kill as many people as possible in as short as time as possible.”
Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said:
“It is ordinarily illegal to transform a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon, and it’s illegal to buy an automatic weapon unless you have a special license and undergo a special background check. I’m not sure how these bump stocks fit into that scheme, but that’s certainly something that’s got my attention and I think we ought to get to the bottom of it.”
Sen. John Thune (R-S. Dakota) has apparently spoken to other GOP lawmakers, whom he claims are at least interested in learning more about how bump stocks are used.
“I think it’s something we ought to look into. I don’t know a lot about them, and I’m somebody who, I’d like to think, is fairly familiar with a lot of firearms and you know, the use of those. And that incident out there is something that I think we need to take a look at.”
Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) also claimed he supports a bill barring bump stock purchases:
“If that actually gets on the Senate floor, I’d vote for it.”
Even the NRA is beginning to come around.
In a statement, NRA executive vice president and chief executive Wayne LaPierre said:
“In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved…The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”
In the same statement, the gun lobby spokesman claimed gun control laws would not prevent further attacks, and called on Congress to pass a “right-to-carry reciprocity” law to “allow law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families from acts of violence.”
This right-to-carry reciprocity law would make it easier for gun owners to carry their weapons across state lines. This would eviscerate local restrictions on carrying and could potentially legalize tourists carrying firearms on the New York City subway.
If bump stocks are banned, it would be a step in the right direction in fighting our nation’s blight of gun violence.
Things have to start somewhere.
However, in anticipation of Congress’ action, bump stocks sales are soaring. The largest gun and ammunition retailers in the country are reporting devices are selling out or temporarily unavailable.
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