Bump Stocks and Ineffective Action
On Tuesday, November 20, Trump ordered Jeff Sessions and the Justice Department to issue regulations banning bump stocks, equipment that allows for semi-automatic weapons to act as automatic weapons. Bump stocks joined the national dialogue in the wake of the Las Vegas concert shooting where the shooter used them on several guns to increase his semi-automatic weapon's capacity. Bump stocks allow semi-automatic guns to mimic the behavior of automatic rifles without technically falling under the category of automatic weapons, hence why they are legal. A bump stock essentially harnesses the gun's recoil power, allowing the gun to recover quicker from each shot and therefore fire more quickly. Semi-automatic guns require the trigger to be released and depressed after each shot in order to fire the next. Fully automatic rifles continue to fire as fresh rounds are cycled into the gun's chamber until the magazine is empty or the trigger is released.
Discussion over the potential banning of bump stocks has been heated in the wake of another mass shooting, falsely indicating that the use of bump stocks is widespread. In fact, bump stocks are not commonly purchased or used because few people need or want to make a semi-automatic weapon fire any faster. Bump stocks have also only been around since 2001, so there hasn't been as much time for the public to accumulate them. What's more concerning to me is that, post-Las Vegas shooting, the demand for bump stocks went up. Slide Fire, one of the companies that sells them, ran out just days after the Las Vegas shooting and had to place orders on wait lists. This speaks to the "fighting fire with fire" argument that many gun advocates are in favor of when it comes to gun control; if he had a bump stock, I better get one just in case.
The proclamation made by Trump may seem like a drastic step taken towards better gun laws, but in fact this was an easy win for Republicans. As bump stocks aren't popular or well-known, banning them gets good press while doing little damage to the NRA and gun-loving voters. The NRA said that it would not support a full ban but that it would support increased regulation, whatever that would entail. In short, yes, bump stocks are not necessary, but banning them will have little effect on the number of gun-related deaths that occur each year. It will also have little effect on mass shootings or vulnerable, dangerous individuals purchasing semi-automatic weapons with no background checks. Republicans are afraid of the words "assault weapons ban," but in reality that's what we need. It wasn't bump stocks that made Las Vegas or Parkland or Sandy Hook possible, it was the guns themselves and the people who wielded them.