In the days after the Las Vegas shooting, there has been much discussion about the fact that the shooter, Richard Paddock, used a “bump stock” attachment. Using one of these bump stocks on his gun increased his firepower, leading to a higher death and injury count.
What are bump stocks?
Automatic weapons such as machine guns have been banned in the U.S. since 1986. But it’s possible to convert a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic by using a “bump stock,” a device that, when attached to a gun, causes a squeeze of the trigger to dispense several rounds instead of one at a time. The devices are legal, and they were intended to help people with limited hand mobility fire multiple rounds without individual trigger pulls.
The “stock” is the part of the gun that lies by the shoulder. A bump stock replaces that stationary piece with one that allows the gun to move backward and forward. The kickback from a bullet firing causes the stock to bump back and forth between the shooter’s shoulder and trigger finger, firing another bullet. That kickback causes another bullet to fire. And so on.
Why are bump stocks important after the Las Vegas shooting?
The Las Vegas mass shooting was horrific — though some have claimed it was the worst in U.S. history, this has since been debunked — with nearly 600 people killed or injured in a matter of minutes. A bump stock was clearly responsible for the high casualty count. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) immediately introduced a bill to ban them. It’s a measure that is drawing rare bipartisan support on the issue of gun safety. House majority leader Paul Ryan (R-WI) has said a ban “is clearly something we need to look into,” and President Trump said U.S. policy on the devices will be reviewed. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said that as a hunter and sportsman he didn’t understand the use of bump stocks and wanted to have a hearing on it. On Oct. 5, even the National Rifle Association said bump stocks should be “subject to additional regulations.”