The devastating fire power that took 59 lives and injured hundreds more in Las Vegas, Nevada, was partly due to a device known as a “bump stock” — a modification for semi-automatic rifles that makes a legal weapon shoot with military-grade force.
Now, those modifications are flying off the shelves. Consumers are fearful that manufacturers and gun stores will acquiesce to pressure following Vegas’ mass shooting and stop production. Turns out, those fears are valid.
Slide Fire, the most well-known bump stock accessory, has ceased production of the tool since the tragedy occurred in Las Vegas. The company reportedly sold $10 million worth of these fire power kits when they first came on the market in 2010, and since then, they’ve only grown more popular.
Bump stocks not only increase the speed at which bullets are fired, they cause the entire weapon to move back and forth in the shooter’s grip, decreasing accuracy and safety.
“It’s a gimmick, and there’s no practical use for it,” Nick Leghorn, senior editor at The Truth About Guns, a firearms blog, said. “It’s what we consider a range toy.”
Even the National Rifle Association (NRA) understands the unnecessary killing power that a bump stock brings. The association bans the use of the modification tool at its headquarters’ own firing range, reported Politico.
The NRA is now attempting to distance itself from this tool as much as possible.
“Devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” the organization said in a statement.
While this stance will, no doubt, strongly support a bill to regulate bump stocks, the lobbyist organization still strongly opposes wider gun control.
“Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control. Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks,” the NRA statement read.
Still, a move against bump stocks may help stop any copycats wishing to replicate Paddock’s mass destruction, but it’s not enough.
Manufacturers of guns and their accessories are dangerously marketing their products to gun enthusiasts who are itching to add a little spice to their time at the shooting range, even leveraging patriotism as a selling point.
“Some gun owners like tricking out their rifles, sort of like a hot rod car, comparing speed and power. They love the thrill of shooting fast,” National Public Radio reporter Brian Mann said. “Slide Fire, which makes one of the most popular bump stock kits, equate their products with an act of patriotism, a way of supporting the Second Amendment.”
“As long as patriots like you kindle its flame, freedom has but one enemy…,” one ad for Slide Fire reads.
If this country is to make any progress in the fight against gun violence, it needs to separate patriotism from weapons of mass destruction. Otherwise the United States — a country filled to the brim with proud patriots ready at any moment to prove their nationalist devotion — will continue down this deadly path.
Banner/Thumbnail Credit: REUTERS/David W Cerny