A chance to survive; Ban bump stocks

DEAR

CONGRESS: PLEASE

GIVE the next victims of a crazed gun-wielding madman a fighting chance: ban bump stocks or anything similar that is designed to increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon.

Give the next victims a fighting chance to flee, to run or seek shelter, to avoid death or wounding.

That’s not too much to ask is it?

The concert-goers in Las Vegas didn’t have that chance and it was due in part to the federal government’s approval seven years ago of a heinous little device called a bump stock that “technically” didn’t convert a semi-automatic weapon to fully-automatic — which are tightly regulated or banned and have been since 1934 — but used the recoil of the weapon to accelerate the rate of fire well beyond the one-pull-of-the-triggerone round rate of semi-automatic weapons.

The ingenious and lethal device doesn’t require additional trigger pulls to unleash a stream of deadly fire. To use it, the shooter simply keeps the trigger finger steady and puts pressure toward the front end of the weapon. The recoil from shooting bumps the weapon back and in less than a blink of an eye the forward pressure brings it in contact with the trigger finger. Again and again and again.

The effectiveness of the device was demonstrated horrifically in Las Vegas when Stephen Paddock rained fire and death from his 32nd floor perch at the Mandalay Bay on 20,000 concert-goers penned in across the street from the hotel. In a 10-minute barrage, Paddock was able to kill 58 people and another 500 were wounded or injured in the mad dash to escape. Paddock had a dozen weapons outfitted with the device in the arsenal he had assembled in the hotel.

It was like shooting fish in a barrel.

Consider this. According to news reports, at one point Paddock fired 90 shots in a 10-second period. A fully-automatic weapon or machine gun can fire 98 shots in seven seconds. The shooter in the Orlando nightclub shootings last year used a semi-automatic weapon — without a bump stock — to fire at a rate of 24 shots in nine seconds at one point. Some gun experts put the rate of fire for a semi-automatic rifle (without a bump stock) at roughly 90 rounds per minute, including magazine changes.

The simple math of those comparisons would tell us that bump stocks can increase the rate of fire of a weapon at least three or four times. That means it’s possible — possible — that without the use of bump stocks, Paddock’s carnage might have been reduced by two-thirds.

Instead of 58 deaths, he might only have been able to kill 19 or 20 people. Instead of

500 wounded and injured concert-goers, we might be only talking 165.

That’s hypothetical, of course. What’s not hypothetical is the carnage would have been reduced significantly and we doubt there is a single concert-goer victim who wouldn’t have welcomed the chance for a few more seconds to seek safety and escape the rain of hell.

The fact is, too, there is no reasonable purpose for the use of near fully-automatic firepower. Not for hunting, not for selfprotection. The inventor of the bump stock, Jeremiah Cottle, who runs his production factory out of a small Texas town north of Abilene, put it succinctly when he said bump stocks can help a semi-automatic weapon recreate the adrenaline-inducing power of a (fully) automatic weapon.

“Some people like drag racing, some people like skiing, some people, like me, love full auto,” Cottle said in an interview.

Getting your jollies on the firing line doesn’t weigh very heavily against the dangers of a madman — even one — mowing down innocent concert-goers. There will be no adrenalineinducing power at their funerals.

We don’t want to hear a congressional debate on this or have the federal regulations kicked back to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for another ruling on bump stocks’ legality.

We don’t want to see a “wider conversation” on the nation’s gun laws or gun silencers/suppressors or nationwide concealed carry or magazine restrictions — save that all for another day.

Just fix this. Pass narrow legislation that bans bump stocks and any other devices that effectively make semi-automatic weapons into the near-equivalent of automatic machine guns.

Give the next victims of a gun-wielding madman a fighting chance to live. — The Journal Times of Racine, Oct. 13


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