Ban­ning bump stocks be­ing a no-brainer

Imperial Valley Press - - OPINION -

It says a lot about the par­ti­san grid­lock in Wash­ing­ton that even af­ter a man armed with more than a dozen ri­fles smashed a ho­tel win­dow and rained bul­lets on hun­dreds of peo­ple at­tend­ing a coun­try mu­sic fes­ti­val in Las Ve­gas, most Amer­i­cans as­sumed Con­gress would keep do­ing noth­ing to pre­vent an­other mass shoot­ing.

Just like in 2012, when Re­pub­li­can leg­is­la­tors sab­o­taged a bi­par­ti­san bill that would’ve ex­panded back­ground checks af­ter Adam Lanza burst into Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School and fa­tally shot 20 in­no­cent chil­dren and six ed­u­ca­tors.

Or in 2016, when Repub­li­cans blocked leg­is­la­tion that would’ve stopped any­one on a ter­ror­ism watch list from buy­ing a gun af­ter Omar Ma­teen shot more than 100 peo­ple at Pulse night­club in Or­lando.

Con­gress has a long and shame­ful his­tory of in­ac­tion and feigned help­less­ness on gun vi­o­lence. But af­ter the blood­shed in Las Ve­gas, shock­ing even in this era of do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism and mass shoot­ings, it ap­pears the po­lit­i­cal winds fi­nally have shifted — even if they’re not shift­ing far enough.

On Thurs­day, the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion did an about-face from its nor­mal wor­ship of the Sec­ond Amend­ment and sig­naled its sup­port for ban­ning the sale of “bump stocks” con­ver­sion kits, an idea first pro­posed by Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein.

Re­ally, it was the only po­lit­i­cally palat­able thing for the NRA to do.

Stephen Pad­dock, the 64-year-old re­tiree who killed 58 peo­ple and wounded 489 oth­ers from his perch in a Man­dalay Bay ho­tel suite on Sun­day, had added bump stocks to a dozen ri­fles. With them, he was able to fire hun­dreds of rounds of bul­lets per minute into the crowd be­low, in­flict­ing far more dam­age than he would’ve been able to do oth­er­wise.

“The NRA be­lieves that de­vices de­signed to al­low semi-au­to­matic ri­fles to func­tion like fully-au­to­matic ri­fles should be sub­ject to ad­di­tional reg­u­la­tions,” the gun lobby group said in a state­ment.

How­ever, the NRA went fur­ther, say­ing it would push so-called rec­i­proc­ity leg­is­la­tion, which would re­quire states, no mat­ter how strict their gun laws, to honor per­mits to carry con­cealed weapons is­sued by other states, no mat­ter how lax those states’ laws might be. Con­gress should re­ject any at­tempt to link the two is­sues. “Rec­i­proc­ity” would vi­o­late the abil­ity of Cal­i­for­nia and other strict gun con­trol states to reg­u­late their own af­fairs.

The fed­eral Bu­reau of Al­co­hol, Tobacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives has said bump stocks don’t vi­o­late fed­eral laws that re­strict own­er­ship of fully au­to­matic ma­chine guns. So Fe­in­stein in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion backed by Democrats this week that would ban the con­ver­sion kits na­tion­ally, as they are in Cal­i­for­nia.

Rep. Car­los Curbelo, a Flor­ida Re­pub­li­can, has writ­ten a sim­i­lar bill and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Illi­nois Re­pub­li­can, has been cir­cu­lat­ing a let­ter de­mand­ing the ATF re-eval­u­ate le­gal­ity of bump stocks.

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