Ahh, the writer’s life. We research some of the weirdest stuff. A line frequently heard at our house is, “Honey, if the FBI knocks on the door, it’s for me. I was doing some book research again, this morning.”
Today, I went down the rabbit hole on bump stocks . In case you’re not familiar with them, they’re an attachment you can add to your semi-automatic rifle to make it, in effect, fully automatic.
In the simplest of terms, they cause the weapon to bounce rapidly against your shoulder while you hold the trigger down. The gun literally bounces against your trigger finger, which makes it fire over and over, as fast as the weapon can fire. You pull the trigger once, and it fires continuously as long as you hold the trigger down.
The rate of fire is approximately 9 rounds per second, and approximately 400 rounds a minute. Notably, the stock of an AR-15 will melt at about 600 rounds a minute.
In excess of a half-million bump stocks were sold before their sale was banned in the first part of 2019. Technically, according to the ban, anyone who owns one is supposed to destroy it. I might add, however, that there was a massive run on purchasing them before the ban went into effect. You do the math–would you run out to buy a bump stock just to destroy it in a few weeks or months?
No surprise, there’s a thriving trade in private sales of existing bump stocks among weapons enthusiasts. These sales are not monitored or reported. After all, it’s impossible to track cash deals between private individuals. Not to mention, a bump stock isn’t a complicated piece of equipment. Any reasonably mechanical soul could build their own bump stock if they had a minimal metal working set-up.
At the end of the day, banning sales or ownership of bump stocks was a case of Congress yelling about the fox getting into the hen house well after the fox killed a whole lot of chickens, stole most of the eggs, and was long gone, back in his den sleeping with a full belly.
So many bump stocks are now in the hands of individuals who aren’t likely to destroy them, and who can sell them with impunity, that trying to enforce a ban on them is less than useless. Banning them did exactly nothing to change the status quo. They’re still out there by the hundreds of thousands.
Whether you’re an avid 2nd Rights Amendment defender who believes in everyone’s right to own a bump stock, or an avid gun control advocate who believes all weapons should be confiscated, it’s worth noting that bump stocks are with us, now, and nothing can put them back where they came from.
They’re a critical component to the kit of the successful mass shooter. Any conversation about reducing gun violence in America probably needs to to take them into account.