Regulating or banning bump-fire devices won't stop another attack
In the wake of a terrible attack in Las Vegas, where a man with as-yet unknown motives carried out a well-planned attack, firing down on confined Las Vegas concert-goers from an elevated position, there have been increasing calls for regulation or even a ban on devices known as "bump stocks."
The Las Vegas attacker reportedly fitted several semi-automatic rifles with such devices, which can aid the operator in pulling the semi-automatic trigger more rapidly, causing some to mistake the rate of fire for that of a fully-automatic machine gun.
Despite the fact that this is the first-known crime in which such a device was used, and despite the fact that the attacker could pass every background check that exists, there have been calls for such devices to be regulated or banned, at first by anti-gun rights Democrats, and now increasingly by Republican politicians and even the NRA's Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox.
But just as there have been problems with every other knee-jerk, emotional "we have to do something" proposal that follows one of these horrific attacks, there are serious problems with attempts to prohibit the simulation of automatic fire with a semi-automatic rifle.
First, by expressing a willingness to regulate or ban “devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles,” these compromisers are ensuring that no definition is safe. All the long, hard, successful work to fix Ohio law to define a "loaded" gun correctly, or to get rid of the law which stated that a semi-automatic rifle with a magazine of over 30 rounds suddenly became a machine gun, is out the window.
Definitions are now open for discussion, and you can be certain those opposed to the Second Amendment will not stop at redefining the legality of these devices. That’s because such a device isn’t even needed to rapidly-fire a semi-automatic gun.
That's right - what those arguing for regulation/ban don't seem to realize is that it is possible to bump-fire a semi-automatic rifle without any accessory device. Look no further than YouTube for demonstrations.
What's more, with enough practice, you don't even need to bump-fire to shoot a semi-automatic rifle incredibly fast.
Let's pretend for a moment that the Trump BATFE reverses the Obama BATFE's evaluation - made on two separate occasions - that bump-fire devices are in compliance with federal law. Pretend that the devices become regulated, and politicians get to run to the cameras and tell everyone they "did something" to prevent another Las Vegas. We can even pretend, if you want, that all such devices already in circulation somehow are confiscated or magically disappear.
What happens when the next attack occurs, only this time, with an attacker rapid-firing a semi-automatic rifle without the aid of such a device?
If the goal is to regulate or prevent the simulation of automatic fire with a semi-automatic rifle, then when regulating or banning "bump-stock" devices fails, the ultimate logical next step will be to just ban the semi-automatic rifles themselves. Make no mistake about it - that is where gun ban extremists would like America to go, and those who are falling for this ploy will have helped them.
Focusing on the tools these psychopaths/terrorists use is never going to be the answer. It's focusing on the symptoms instead of the problems. It'll make some feel like they accomplished something right up until the next attack, at which point they'll be back to seeking another "feel good/do something" response, because the last "feel good/do something" proved worthless.
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is co-founder of BFA-PAC, and served as its Vice Chairman for 15 years. He is the editor of BuckeyeFirearms.org, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.