When Stephen Paddock, 64, fired onto a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas late Sunday night, killing at least 58 and injuring more than 500, the AR-15s he used were converted using a device called a “bump stock,” which makes the gun fire much faster than it was designed to fire, more like an automatic machine gun than a rifle.
After the massacre, the worst mass shooting in modern US history, Congressional Republicans traditionally opposed to gun control measures have indicated more willingness to talk about sensible gun-control measures, such as a narrow piece of legislation introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California. Congress may soon pass a bipartisan ban on bump stocks, the New York Times reports.
Bump stocks are manufactured by two companies near Abilene, Texas: Bump Fire Systems and Slide Fire Solutions. They replace the gun’s stock and cause the rifle to “bump” back and forth, between the trigger finger and the shoulder. This back-and-forth motion is what causes the bullets to load faster than the rifle’s original design would allow. As a result of the bump stock, shooters are able to get off many more bullets per unit time than they would be able to fire if the bump stock weren’t installed on the rifle.
Bump stocks are gun parts, not guns, and they therefore don’t fall strictly under the jurisdiction of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, or ATF.
Ms Feinstein admitted, however, that she wouldn’t exactly count this bill, even if it becomes law, as a major piece of the gun control puzzle facing America.
Back in 2013, she included a ban on bump stocks in a bill that had many other provisions, some of which clearly banned certain types of guns. That legislation failed. This one, being more narrowly tailored, she hopes, will have more luck.
“I mean, if not this, what?” the Times quoted her as asking. “It doesn’t take a weapon away. It just means you can’t convert it into something it’s not meant to be.”