Increasingly frustrated by Speaker Paul Ryan’s close relationship with the National Rifle Association (NRA), states and cities are banning the so-called “bump stock” recoil devices that gunman Stephen Paddock used to fire on a crowd of concert-goers gathered on the Las Vegas Strip, killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500.
Officials say 12 of Paddock’s semi-automatic rifles were modified with ‘bump stocks, manufactured by the company, Slide Fire. This controversial add-on essentially converts a semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic one, according to CBS News. Numerous videos online, including those from Slide Fire, demonstrate the mechanics, CBS says.
Ryan Says Nay to Ban
Speaker Paul Ryan said he would refuse to take up bump stock legislation in the House. “The smartest, quickest fix” would be Federal government regulation,” Ryan said, according to the Washington Examiner. But there’s a catch.
The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, (ATF) declared that bump stocks were legal under President Obama twice, in 2010 and 2012. Ryan questioned why President Obama made bump stocks legal in the first place.
According to Politifact, “Adam Winkler, a law professor at University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in guns, said it was appropriate to characterize the move as an approval of its sale under the Obama Administration.
“Not because they liked it, but because the law did not permit them to prohibit it,” Winkler told Politifact.
“Obama issued a number of executive orders promoting tougher gun control, which the Trump administration has been rolling back, including a measure that previously prevented people with mental illness from buying guns,” Politifact reports.
States Take the Lead
Annoyed by Congressional inaction, at least 15 states and a number of local jurisdictions are taking up bump stock proposals of their own.
In February, Massachusetts, already home to strict gun control laws, was the latest state to ban bump stock possession. It was voted on last November 1st, exactly one month after Stephen Paddock committed the most deadly shooting in U.S. history. The ban became fully effective this month, after bump stock owners were given ample time to surrender their accessory stocks.
Trigger cranks, a similar device, are included under the provision.
“As of today, if you privately own a bump stock or trigger crank in Massachusetts, you’re subject to criminal prosecution and could be [given a sentence of] up to life in prison,” Representative David Linsky, a Democrat, told 25 Boston.
Las Vegas Law Blocks Ban
New Jersey and Connecticut, as well as a number of cities, including Denver and Columbia, S.C., have already enacted laws prohibiting the sale and possession of bump stocks.
Nevada has one of the nation’s most lax gun control laws in the nation, and is prohibited from banning guns. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Nevada Legislature passed a law in 2015 placing control over firearms, accessories and ammunition in the “exclusive domain of the Legislature,” and renders any local law “to the contrary null and void.”
“I can’t believe my hands are tied by a legislature that’s going to meet every other year,” Las Vegas City Councilman Bob Coffin, a Democrat, told the Review-Journal. “This tramples on local government’s requirement to provide for the safety of citizens.”
Arizona Man Charged with Making Armor-Piercing Bullets Found in Paddock’s Room
In a related development, Douglas Haig, an Arizona man who says he sold tracer ammunition to Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock in October, was arrested on “a charge of conspiring to manufacture and sell another type of ammunition — armor-piercing bullets — in violation of Federal law,” according to reporting by CNN on February 3.
“A criminal complaint alleges two unfired .308-caliber (7.62mm) rounds found in gunman Stephen Paddock’s hotel room had Haig’s fingerprints on them as well as tool marks from his workshop.
“The bullets in the cartridges were armor-piercing, with an incendiary capsule in the nose,” the complaint says.
“The FBI on October 19 searched Haig’s Mesa home and seized ammunition the agency says is armor-piercing, the complaint says. Haig did not have a license to manufacture armor-piercing ammunition,” CNN reports.
Clinton’s Legislation Needs Updating
“Technology has transformed nearly every industry since that time, and firearms are not immune from those advancements.
“That’s why it’s important that our laws keep pace with new devices that circumvent current statutes and regulations,” the Post concludes.
National Firearms Act of 1934
According to Wikipedia, “The National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) defines a number of categories of regulated firearms. These weapons are collectively known as NFA firearms and include the following:
This includes any firearm which can fire more than 1 cartridge per trigger pull. Both continuous fully automatic fire and “burst fire” (e.g., firearms with a 3-round burst feature) are considered machine gun features.
The weapon’s receiver is by itself considered to be a regulated firearm. A non-machinegun that may be converted to fire more than one shot per trigger pull by ordinary mechanical skills is determined to be “readily convertible”, and classed as a machine gun, such as a KG-9 pistol (pre-ban ones are “grandfathered”).
Short-barreled rifles (SBRs)
This category includes any firearm with a buttstock and either a rifled barrel less than 16″ long or an overall length under 26″. The overall length is measured with any folding or collapsing stocks in the extended position. The category also includes firearms which came from the factory with a buttstock that was later removed by a third party.
Short barreled shotguns (SBSs)
This category is defined similarly to SBRs, but with either a smoothbore barrel less than 18″ long or a minimum overall length under 26″.
This includes any portable device designed to muffle or disguise the report of a portable firearm. This category does not include non-portable devices, such as sound traps used by gunsmiths in their shops which are large and usually bolted to the floor.
There are two broad classes of destructive devices:
- Devices such as grenades, bombs, explosive missiles, poison gas weapons, etc.
- Any firearm with a bore over 0.50 inch except for shotguns or shotgun shells which have been found to be generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes. (Many firearms with bores over 0.50″ inch, such as 10-gauge or 12-gauge shotguns, are exempted from the law because they have been determined to have a “legitimate sporting use”.)
Any other weapon (AOW)
Firearms meeting the definition of “any other weapon” or AOW are weapons or devices capable of being concealed on the person from which a shot can be discharged through the energy of an explosive.
Many AOWs are disguised devices such as pens, cigarette lighters, knives, cane guns and umbrella guns.
The time is now for strong firearm regulations, whether by the states or Federal government. The United States has experienced enough deaths at Sandy Hook, Columbine and Las Vegas, among others. We must do more to prevent more people, including children, from being massacred in the future.