2017-10-08 05:01:39 UTC
A Prospective Bump Stock Ban Shows How Disconnected Gun Control Politics Is
The device's ineffectiveness and unpopularity make it an easy sacrifice.
Christian Britschgi|Oct. 6, 2017 5:30 pm
A bump stock, you probably can't help but know by now, is a special rifle
attachment that harnesses the natural recoil of a semi-automatic weapon to
repeatedly "bump" up against the shooters trigger finger, dramatically
increasing the rate of fire.
Last Saturday the device was an obscure novelty, dismissively regarded in
gun circles. The next day it was a prime suspect in the killing of 59
people, and injuring of over 500 more in Las Vegas, Nevada. By midweek, bump
stocks were the bullseye of our repetitive shooting match over gun control.
Finally, Democrats like Sen. Diane Feinstein (D – Calif.), who had
introduced a failed bill to ban them in 2013, and Republicans found
something in this debate they could agree upon. Not previously knowing what
they were almost seemed to provide a rationale for supporting a ban.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R – Wis.) said Thursday, "I didn't even know what
they were until this week, and I'm an avid sportsman. Apparently, this
allows you to take a semiautomatic and turn it into a fully automatic, so
clearly that's something we need to look into." Rep. Bill Flores (R –
Texas), a gun-owner, told The Hill, "now that I've studied up on what a bump
stock is — I didn't know there was such a thing — there's no reason for it."
Predictably, talk of a ban has made bump stocks one of America's fastest
selling gun accessories. "Oh, God, yes, it's been insane," one Texas gun
store owner told CNN Money. "Since this story has broke, we've been getting
about 50 people a day asking for them." Another from Maine said that he had
five bump stocks gathering dust for months, before a post-Vegas buying spree
saw them all snatched them up.
The buying blitz has overwhelmed bump stock manufacturer Slide Fire
Solutions. Operating out of the tiny town of Moran, Texas (pop. 270), Slide
Fire has done steady business since founder Jeremiah Cottle first set up
shop in 2010. A post-Vegas surge in demand, however, has forced the company
to suspend taking new orders. If the political winds keeping blowing the way
they do, Slide Fire might never take any new orders.
No one seems more mystified by the sudden enthusiasm for bump stocks—from
both gun nuts and gun grabbers—than gun store owners. Because bump stocks
sacrifice accuracy for speed hunters, sportsmen, and most other enthusiasts
have little need for them, some experts say.
"I've always thought these bump stocks were just a novelty," Andrew
Wickerham, owner of the 2nd Amendment Gun Shop in Las Vegas, told The
Christian Science Monitor. "They're not that good, and they're hard as hell
"I will order them if someone wants one, but I highly discourage them from
purchasing. It's not safe, they don't work, and it's a gimmick," Tallahassee
gun retailer Will Dance told CNN Money.
Even with the sudden sales surge, the rarity of the devices raises the
question of the real impact of a ban, other than to allow for some
bipartisan political posturing. Banning bump stocks is something that can be
done without pissing too many people off, placating the crowd that after
every shooting in America screams for somebody to do something.
This sort of logic is only questionable outside of politics.
Photo Credit: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom