As the nation continues to mourn and speculate in an effort to make sense of the Mandalay Bay Massacre, attention has focused to gunman Stephen Paddock‘s use of a so-called “bump stock” in order to attain the approximate functional equivalent of machine gun fire.
LawNewz has recently learned that such rapid-fire devices were okayed for public use by the Obama-era Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) in mid-2010.
A bump stock is an after-market accessory which replaces the factory stock and grip of an assault rifle. It operates by harnessing the natural recoil of a firearm, allowing the user to continuously fire as the trigger is repeatedly bumped against an individual’s firing finger.
The company Slide Fire patented a shoulder version of the bump stock and sent the device to Obama’s ATF for regulatory evaluation in early 2010. The ATF approved Slide Fire’s device in June of that year. In a letter explaining their decision, the ATF wrote:
The stock has no automatically functioning mechanical parts or springs and performs no automatic mechanical function when installed. In order to use the device, the shooter must apply constant forward pressure with the non-shooting hands and constant rearward pressure with the shooting hand. Accordingly, we find that the ‘bump stock’ is a firearm part and is not regulated as a firearm under the Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.
Fashioned out of metal or plastic, bump stocks have since become a popular accessory used by gun enthusiasts. In the wake of the horrific violence on the Las Vegas Strip–and ensuing press coverage of the role bump stocks likely played in said violence–gun fans have been buying the rapid fire devices in exceedingly large quantities, perhaps fearful of their potential regulation after so much public scrutiny.
Anti-Second Amendment activists and congressional Democrats have now moved to ban the devices–with whispers that some support for a ban may even come from the GOP. The turn of events is fairly ironic, considering Obama’s ATF was hardly concerned with bump stocks, noting, at the time, “Your letter advises that the stock (referenced in this reply as a ‘bump stock’) is intended to assist persons whose hands have limited mobility to ‘bump fire’ an AR-15 type rifle.”
Barack Obama’s administration was largely considered to be anti-Second Amendment.
[image via screengrab]
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