The ‘bump stock’ ban is a band aid on several thousand bullet wounds. While this common sense ban may be coming, it will do little to decrease the gun violence in the United States.
The Las Vegas shooting is the deadliest mass shooting in modern history. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, killed 59 people and wounded close to 500. Targeting the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, he fired into a crowd of 22,000 from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. In the hotel room, authorities found 23 rifles and handguns. Of the arsenal of weapons, he had outfitted 12 of the guns with ‘bump stocks’-an aftermarket, legal device that allows the weapon to fire more rapidly, similar to an automatic rifle.
Many times after a mass shooting, members of congress push to immediately pass bills designed to prevent similar attacks in the future. Following this pattern, members of congress are now considering passing a bill which bans the type of device used in the Las Vegas shooting. However, these bills are often short sighted.
For example, after the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, senators pushed to pass the ‘Denying Firearms And Explosives To Dangerous Terrorists Act’. The bill was designed to prevent suspected terrorists from purchasing firearms. Because the Pulse nightclub shooter, Omar Mateen, was interviewed in 2013 and 2014 by the FBI about his ties to terrorist organizations, members of congress sought to pass the bill. While the bill may have had an effect on the Pulse nightclub shooting, it is unlikely to have prevented the Las Vegas shooting. Unlike Mateen, authorities have found no ties between the Las Vegas shooter and any terrorist organization.
Similarly, in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, members of congress are now indicating a willingness to ban the firearm accessory used by the shooter. Like the bill following the Pulse nightclub shooting, this ban focuses on a small detail of the most recent shooting.
In 2017, there have been 11,774 gun deaths. It appears that bump stocks were only utilized in the Las Vegas shooting. Meaning, only .5% of these deaths involve a shooter using a bump stock device. Out of the 274 mass shootings in 2017, .3% of the shooters used firearm modified with a bump stock. Over the past 6 years, there have been 6 mass murders where 12 or more people died. In 2012, 12 people were murdered in a movie theater in Colorado and another 26 were killed in Sandy Hook Elementary school. In 2013, a gunman in Washington D.C. killed 12 people. In 2015, 14 people were killed while attending a holiday party in California. In 2016, 49 people were murdered at a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The most recent mass murder is the only one in which these bump stocks were utilized by the shooter.
Obviously, the ban on bump stocks should be passed. It prevents the type of rapid fire that contributed to the deadliest modern mass shooting. But, while it can help prevent larger numbers of injuries and deaths, it will not prevent a mass shooting from occurring. But it is not a long term solution. Just like if congress had passed the bill after the Pulse nightclub shooting, this bill would do very little to prevent future mass shootings.