Ban bump stocks

Members of Congress are quickly galvanizing around the idea of banning “bump stocks” — a firearm accessory that helped the Las Vegas gunman inflict maximum carnage on the music festival crowd he fired into.

Bump stocks allow a semi-automatic rifle to mimic a fully automatic weapon by unleashing an entire large magazine in seconds. As the Associated Press reported Wednesday, they were little-known devices before Sunday’s massacre.

Suddenly they’re a hot item. Bump stock manufacturers can’t meet demand for the devices, apparently on consumer fears that they’ll become the target of a ban. Those fears seem warranted after top congressional Republicans signaled that they would be open to examining where they fit into current gun regulations.

“Automatic weapons are illegal,” Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, the GOP chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told reporters on Wednesday, according to The Hill. “To me, that is part of that same type of process. So I have no problem banning those.”

Republicans have traditionally resisted limits on guns — blocking efforts to limit magazine capacity and thwarting expanded background checks in the wake of other mass shootings. So the party’s willingness to consider legislative action on bump stocks reflects the gravity of the Las Vegas massacre.

Even more surprising was the National Rifle Association’s announcement Thursday that “devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives approved bump stocks for sale in 2010 — under the Obama administration — finding that they didn’t fit the definition of a firearm regulated under the Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.

Count us among those who believe gun rights play a vital role in our constitutional design and who believe gun ownership can play an important role in teaching responsibility. But also count us among the growing chorus of voices who say banning bump stocks is an obvious first step toward more sensible regulations.

Reasonable restrictions like background checks, magazine limits and banning bump stocks are not the solution, but they are part of the solution.

Hunters and sportsmen must work to rein in the extreme elements among them. When non-gun owners read that gun zealots can purchase weapons, high-capacity magazines and conversion kits from a website named stackingbodies.com, their extreme reaction should not come as a surprise.

With gun ownership enshrined as a constitutional right, regulation is fraught with controversy. Perhaps this is a moment to find some common ground in the debate.

Banning bump stocks is hopefully the first step toward a productive dialogue on what’s reasonable with regard to our right to own guns.


COMMENTS

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Thanks to the Daily Sentinel’s editors for endorsing a timid “first step” in the direction of more stringent and effective gun safety regulations (“Ban bump stocks”). 

However, contrary to the editors’ hopeful “surprise” in response to the NRA’s statement, the NRA’s feigned “support” for increased “regulation” of such devices is disingenuous, because it knows – as the editorial notes – that they are perfectly legal under current law and thus would require Congressional action to “ban”.  Meanwhile, the NRA remains supremely confident that no such action will ever occur – because the combination of its targeted campaign contributions and voting “scorecard” will scare-off many Republicans.

One deceptive myth repeatedly cited by the NRA to justify its adamant opposition to gun safety legislation is the proposition that any such controls would “infringe” upon the Second Amendment rights of “law abiding citizens” – as if that status were permanent.

Of course, every American is “law abiding” until they are not; every potential gun buyer is of sound mind until they “crack”; every potential felon is presumed innocent until convicted; and every husband remains devoted to his wife until he begins abusing her.

Thus, the real purpose of gun control legislation is to protect “law abiding citizens” from the unfortunate status changes that can lead their previously sane and law-abiding fellow citizens to gun violence – by limiting their access to “weapons of mass destruction”.

Another deceptive myth perpetrated by the NRA is that “guns don’t kill people, people do”.  However, the forensic evidence confirms that – while both guns and people can be blamed for “killing people” – it is actually bullets that inflict the fatal damage.  Recalling that the drafters of the Second Amendment had no knowledge of any firearm capable of firing more than one round without reloading, common sense suggests that prudent gun safety legislation can and should reasonably limit the ammunition capacity of “arms”.

Nevertheless, NRA-funded Republicans oppose banning semi-automatic assault weapons (which can readily be converted to fully-automatic) and/or limiting magazine capacities.  Moreover, having made such weapons and magazines “legal”, these Republicans refuse to close the “gun show loophole” – the nonsensical exception to “universal background checks” which allows criminals, the deranged, spouse-abusers, would-be mass shooters, and even determined terrorists to acquire lethal weapons at will and with no waiting.

Therefore, Sentinel readers should encourage its editors to move beyond
“first steps” and take more confident strides toward endorsing more effective and intelligent gun safety laws.

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