Pass law against “bump stocks”
Up until last week, the term ”bump stock” had not entered the lexicon of popular culture.
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Up until last week, the term ”bump stock” had not entered the lexicon of popular culture. It was known largely to gun enthusiasts, and not even among all of them.
The tragic events that educated the rest of the country, including Hawaii, was the mass shooting Oct. 1 in Las Vegas. Stephen Paddock, the gunman who ultimately ended his own life, murdered 58 people at an outdoor music concert, 32 floors below his vantage point in the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Resort. Additionally, about 10 times that number of helpless victims were injured by the flying bullets from his semiautomatic weapon.
That gruesome kill rate was enabled by the bump stock, an attachment that speeds up the triggering of a legal semiautomatic weapon.
It’s called “semiautomatic” because the next round is loaded automatically after each shot but is not fired. The bump stock works by using the weapon’s recoil to cause the shooter’s finger to rapidly and repeatedly squeeze the trigger.
A consensus is building around the idea that this is not what the Founding Fathers had in mind with the Second Amendment enshrinement of the right to bear arms.
Cracking down on these devices — at both the federal and state levels, where legislation is being considered — is needed to close a loophole that otherwise allows an end run on the prohibition on machine gun ownership by private citizens.
After all, a federal ban on fully automatic weapons has been on the books since 1986, making it illegal for these citizens to own a machine gun manufactured after May 19, 1986. Those who owned guns before that date could keep them, but they must be registered, and only specially regulated dealers could sell them.
This was an amendment to a modification of the National Firearms Act; the prohibition was one of the few concessions to the gun-control advocates in a bill that largely dismantled provisions of the previous law.
A bill has been introduced in Congress to ban the import, sale, manufacturing, transfer or possession of “a trigger crank, a bump-fire” or similar accessory that, when added to a semiautomatic, can enable a firing rate at nearly the same level of a fully automatic “machine gun” firearm.
Hawaii political leaders, with this state’s strict gun-control statutes, shouldn’t take much persuasion to pass something similar at the state level, where statutes also prohibit machine guns. State Sen. Karl Rhoads, vice chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he will sponsor a bill that explicitly bans the device, “if someone doesn’t beat me to it.”
Regardless of which lawmaker gets the measure in the hopper, it would deserve passage by any elected official who acknowledges the need for some reasonable curb on the killing power of a single weapon.
The National Rifle Association, representing the fiercely protective gun lobby, has called for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives “to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.”
But under the administration of former President Barack Obama, the ATF already has found that because the attachment has no automatically functioning mechanical parts and performs no automatic mechanical action, it does not qualify as a firearm and is not covered by the law.
Clearly, what’s needed is not more ATF review but a change in the actual statute making it plain that these devices, or any enhancement performing a similar function, are illegal.
Without such a measure, Hawaii and the nation would be tolerating the unleashing of battlefield power on public streets. As all have witnessed in horror and grief in Las Vegas, it enables violence at an unconscionable level.
This must end, now.