In the wake of the horrific shooting in Parkland, President Donald Trump has announced that he is having Attorney General Jeff Sessions work with the department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to ban the use and possession of bump stocks for semi-automatic rifles.
Although a bump stock was not used in the Parkland shooting, it was used in last year’s Las Vegas shooting. A bump stock uses the recoil of the gun to bring the trigger back to the shooters stationary trigger finger, rather than the user pulling the trigger with their finger, resulting in a much higher rate of fire at the penalty of less accuracy.
But will banning bump stocks impact mass shootings and is the type of regulation that should be pursued?
After watching many bump stock demonstration videos online, it is clear that they certainly grant the ability to fire at rates similar to that of an automatic weapon. This ability to fire at such a rapid rate spells devastation for densely packed areas of people. Although only Stephen Paddock has used a bump stock for a mass shooting, with the bulk of shootings historically being committed with semi-automatic pistols, this does not mean it should be overlooked.
Here’s a video on how bump stocks work from The Times.
The Las Vegas shooting was by far the deadliest shooting, resulting in the deaths of 58 people and the injury of over 800. Bump stocks were not well known to the public prior to this, so it is possible that their “newfound” existence could inspire potential mass shooters to use them in the future. Banning the bump stock would likely not deter shooters, but at least hamper their ability to inflict harm.
Now, is this the type of regulation that should be sought out as a reasonable means of gun control that balances the second amendment right to bear arms and the safety of the public? Of course, and this is coming from someone that is very pro-gun and raised in a family that values gun ownership as both a means of self-defense and recreation.
Having the high rates of fire that result from bump stocks has no place in any legal use of a firearm outside of the range. It would be impractical for both hunting and home defense, given the high rate of fire and lack of accuracy. I do understand wanting a bump stock on a range to experience what it is like to shoot at such a high rate of fire, but there are many gun ranges that can supply that experience under proper supervision and security with actual automatic weapons.
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Many second amendment advocates worry that laws against bump stocks would be the start of a slippery slope for banning firearms in the future. I have my doubts that banning bump stocks would do so, given that the concern is the rate of fire, and not the actual issue of gun ownership. The fear of an all out gun ban or confiscation is also fairly over blown. There are more guns than people in this country, so from a strictly logistical standpoint, it would be a nightmare to carry it out properly, not to mention the large number of people that would not comply with a gun ban. It’s also — obviously — against the second amendment to do so and would require a new amendment to the constitution.
With the state of U.S. politics right now, a law can barely be passed, let alone an amendment to the Constitution. There are even challenges in banning bump stocks with the ATF, since they ruled that they cannot regulate them since they do not modify the actual mechanical features of the gun. The bump stock is essentially a loophole means of modifying a semi-automatic weapon to fire like an automatic, but in a way that is legal. To ban the bump stock without legal controversy would likely take a law passed by congress, the state legislatures, or thru executive order.
Banning bump stocks would be a step in the right direction and a place of bipartisan compromise for the safety of the country. However, there are still other issues that need to be addressed to reduce mass shootings. The government fails to act in a preventative fashion. Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz had his home had been visited by the police dozens of times and he had even been reported to the FBI with suspicions of planning a shooting of his school. Legal efforts are useless if they are not properly followed through on. This is why gun ownership is important as a last resort to protect innocent people.
Will a good person with a gun always stop a shooting? No, and that is evidenced most recently by the armed school resource officer failing to confront the Parkland shooter, but there have been instances where a good person with a gun has stopped a shooting, such as the civilians who shot the Sutherland Springs church shooter.
Both sides of the aisle have good ideas on how to stop and prevent mass shooting situations. There needs to be a stronger effort to bridge the bipartisan gap for the sake of American lives. Until that gap is bridged, the nation will continue to suffer these acts of evil.
Photo taken from miamiherald.com