It’s time for bump stocks to be banned

We’re re­lieved con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans ap­pear ready to con­sider a lim­ited form of gun con­trol: ban­ning the bump stock, the rapid-fir­ing de­vice used in the Las Ve­gas mas­sacre. We’re stunned the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion seems to agree.

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - OPINION -

What a sig­nif­i­cant mo­ment this could be, in the wake of a hor­ren­dous crim­i­nal act, for the na­tional con­ver­sa­tion about gun rights and gun cul­ture.

The sniper who slaugh­tered more than 50 peo­ple and wounded nearly 500 at an out­door con­cert pos­sessed nu­mer­ous weapons, in­clud­ing some retro­fit­ted with bump stocks. This al­lowed the shooter to fire at a near-con­tin­u­ous rate, as if rak­ing his tar­get area with a ma­chine gun.

Why on earth would any pri­vate in­di­vid­ual need ac­cess to a weapon of war?

That’s the ques­tion even adamant de­fend­ers of the Sec­ond Amend­ment right to gun pos­ses­sion ap­pear will­ing to ask in the wake of Las Ve­gas. Our an­swer is that there is no com­pelling rea­son to give civil­ians the fire­power of the in­fantry.

The his­tory of ma­chine gun reg­u­la­tions dates to Chicago’s gang­ster era of the 1920s and early ‘30s. The bad guys shot each other up with Tommy guns.

The Na­tional Firearms Act of 1934 clamped down on ma­chine guns by im­pos­ing tax and regis­tra­tion re­stric­tions. These days, the sale of au­to­matic weapons to civil­ians is banned, and the sale of au­to­matic weapons man­u­fac­tured be­fore 1986 is closely reg­u­lated and mon­i­tored.

Then in 2010, man­u­fac­tur­ers be­gan of­fer­ing the bump stock, a $100 to $400 con­ver­sion de­vice that al­lows a semi­au­to­matic ri­fle to fire at close to the same rate as a ma­chine gun. It does this by re­plac­ing the stock and pis­tol grip with a piece of equip­ment that har­nesses re­coil power to bump the trig­ger back and forth re­peat­edly against the shooter’s fin­ger.

The added lethal­ity of a bump stock is grotesque: The Las Ve­gas shooter ap­peared to fire as many as 90 bul­lets in 10 sec­onds.

With­out such a de­vice, it would take sev­eral min­utes to de­liver that many rounds.

You can find YouTube videos that show shoot­ing ex­perts test­ing bump stock de­vices, and even one of them sounded con­cerned about the avail­abil­ity of such fire­power for as lit­tle as 99 bucks. “The pack­ag­ing this thing came in said ‘spray 600 rounds a minute,’” one ex­pert says on his video. “That’s right: ‘Spray 600 rounds a minute.’ They’ve since changed that on their web­site to say ‘safe and pre­cise,’ but I think the peo­ple be­hind this could learn a cou­ple lessons.”

As we wrote ear­lier, gun vi­o­lence in Amer­ica is an epi­demic.

There are steps law­mak­ers can take — such as re­quir­ing back­ground checks on all pur­chases, and lim­it­ing the ca­pac­ity of magazine clips — that would ad­dress the scourge with­out tramp­ing on the Sec­ond Amend­ment.

Yet gun rights pro­po­nents, led by the NRA, in the past have re­sponded as if they were be­ing told the con­fis­ca­tion of all weapons be­gins at dawn. Even af­ter the 2012 mur­der of 26 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 20 first­graders, at Sandy Hook El­e­men­tary School in Con­necti­cut, the de­bate was shut down by those who see gun own­er­ship as a fun­da­men­tal right pro­tected by the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Then came Las Ve­gas: dozens dead at the hands of a sniper mow­ing down con­cert­go­ers as if he were straf­ing an en­emy bat­tal­ion. It’s too much for even the NRA to ig­nore.

Repub­li­cans, joined of course by many Democrats, now sound ready to look closely at the bump stock. “I own a lot of guns, and as a hunter and sports­man, I think that’s our right as Amer­i­cans,” Texas Sen. John Cornyn said. “But I don’t un­der­stand the use of this bump stock.”

Last Thurs­day, the NRA said such de­vices “should be sub­ject to ad­di­tional reg­u­la­tions.”

Bump stocks and the like should be banned.

They serve no jus­ti­fi­able pur­pose.

Repub­li­cans, move on this. Don’t ex­pect pub­lic pres­sure to fade. Ban these killing ma­chines.

Las Ve­gas was a mo­ment the coun­try never wanted that it must con­front.

This should be the start­ing point for the rea­son­able gun de­bate Amer­ica needs.

Why on earth would any pri­vate in­di­vid­ual need ac­cess to a weapon of war?

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