Various firearms which can be legally purchased throughout the U.S. (Adam Gilles/Lariat)
The recent mass shooting in Las Vegas by domestic terrorist Stephen Paddock, in which he murdered 59 people and wounded more than 500 others, has reignited debate from all sides regarding gun control and possible actions by the government to place restrictions on certain firearms accessories.
A federal regulation bans all fully automatic weapons for civilian use, except those manufactured before 1986 which must be registered with the U.S. government. Paddock modified some of the rifles that he used in the attack with bump stock devices that enabled him to fire a large barrage of rounds, similar to that of an automatic rifle, from his 32nd floor room at the Mandalay Bay hotel into a crowd of thousands of concert attendees across the street at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
Historically, shares of stock in leading firearms manufacturers have gone up immediately following a mass shooting in the U.S. due to widespread fear that Congress will enact new forms of gun control, which makes customers rush out to buy more guns, ammunition and firearms accessories.
Shares of Smith & Wesson’s parent company American Outdoor Brands Corp climbed 2.3 percent and Sturm, Ruger & Co moved up 3.7 percent the day after the Las Vegas attack. The same shares rose 11.6 percent and 10.7 percent respectively after last years Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida which left 50 people dead.
The majority of major retailers have sold out of bump stock devices in response to possible future restrictions on the devices, which can enable several of the most popular semi-automatic rifles in the country, such as the AR-15 and AK-47, to replicate the speed of a fully automatic rifle by using the firearms own recoil to “bounce” the gun back and forth against the shooter’s shoulder, while their trigger finger is stabilized in order to achieve rapid trigger pulls in succession.
Websites such as GunBroker.com have seen a 200-300 percent markup on the devices on the secondary market. Because of how inaccurate bump stocks make a rifle once they are installed, the National Rifle Association does not even allow the devices to be used at their own firing ranges.
“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” said NRA leaders Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox in a official press release.
In April of 2017, the NRA released a TV advertisement titled “The Clenched Fist of Truth.” Critics released a petition asking Facebook to “remove inflammatory NRA video for inciting violence.”
“This NRA ad is an open call to violence to protect white supremacy. If I made a video like this, I’d be in jail,” said civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson in a tweet from June 29. pic.twitter.com/LD65yMUMVn
The Sportsman’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, which would allow gun owners to transport registered firearms across state lines, carry guns in national parks and eliminate the $200 transfer tax on silencers, was also introduced to Congress last month. The vote on the bill was actually scheduled for this past week but has been stalled due to the recent events in Las Vegas.
The opponents of the bill, which would make it easier to purchase silencers, argue that silencers could increase the damage inflicted during a mass shooting because it would make determining where shots were being fired from more difficult for victims and law enforcement at the scene. Supporters claim that silencers are useful for preventing hearing damage among hunters and reduce the risk of disturbing wildlife.
During the presidential election campaign in September 2016, Donald Trump Jr. appeared in a promotional video for Utah-based SilencerCo, one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of suppressors, to promote the company’s products.
“I love your product,” said Trump Jr. in the video. “It’s just a great instrument. There’s nothing bad about it at all. It makes total sense.”
He added that the companies suppressors could even help get “little kids into the game” of hunting.
Josh Waldron, the interviewer of the video and CEO of SilencerCo, and his wife donated a combined $50,000 to the Trump Victory political fund as well as donating $2,700 each, directly to Trump’s campaign.
The NRA publicly endorsed Donald J. Trump early in his 2016 campaign for President. According to a report on OpenSecrets.org, the NRA spent over $31 million on independent advertisements and other media attacking Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and supporting Trump.
The NRA has not issued any statement on the Las Vegas shooting.
When asked this week if there would be a political debate on gun control in the wake of this most recent mass shooting, President Trump said, “Perhaps that will come,” but added that it was “not for now.”
The NRA collects $200 million dollars a year in dues alone from its 5 million members, which consist of only 6-7 percent of U.S. gun owners. They openly spend that money for their political gain while promoting division and social unrest amongst the nation’s citizens. The Trump administration is biased on their stance regarding any form of gun control and are firmly in the NRA and gun lobbies pockets.
Regardless of one’s position in the matter, it is clear that devices such as bump stocks were created to circumvent the laws regarding civilian possession and use of automatic weapons. It is unfortunate that it takes incidents such as mass shootings to create debate on this issue. Despite the sentiments of our current presidential administration, now is the perfect time to talk about gun control.