Details about alleged Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock’s arsenal have slowly been revealed by the police after Sunday night’s shooting, but one notable mention that keeps occurring is that Paddock used bump stocks, a rifle modifier that converts a semi-automatic gun into what amounts to an automatic using the rifle’s recoil.
Why bump stocks, which are designed to let a shooter fire more rounds in less time, are legal is a question that the Senate will soon consider after Sen. Diane Feinstein introduced legislation to ban them and other modifications that turn semi-automatic guns into (essentially) automatics.
“It shall be unlawful for any person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, a trigger crank, a bump-fire device or any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun,” the bill states.
Feinstein has introduced gun control legislation in the past but does not appear to have the support of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said it was “particularly inappropriate to politicize” the shooting. “In the meantime, our priority is on tax reform, as my colleagues have indicated,” McConnell added. Fellow Republican Senators weren’t so fast to dismiss Feinstein’s idea, though:
“That’s something I think we’ll take a look at,” Sen. John Thune, R-South Dakota, told reporters when asked about the bump stocks and semi-automatic weapons being illegally converted to fire fully automatic.
Another Republican, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said it would be a “good time” to have a hearing and he suggested he would consider looking at bump stocks. “I’m not an expert on bump stocks, [but] all things that make America safer and don’t infringe on the Second Amendment, count me in,” Graham said.
“Some said we shouldn’t do this now; now is not the time. Ladies and gentlemen, when is the time going to be there?” Feinstein said at a press conference. “No better way to honor the 59 people who were slaughtered than to take action to prevent this from happening yet again. If not, when will we ever do it?”
Hold onto your hats, the Senate may actually pass this thing.