As thousands of concertgoers watched Jason Aldean perform at a music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night, a gunman unleashed a hail of gunfire on the unsuspecting crowd and killed at least 59 people. It turned out to be the deadliest mass shooting in American history.
Now, the Associated Press is reporting that the shooter, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was in possession of a device called a “bump-stock,” two of them, which increases the rate of fire on a rifle significantly:
The device basically replaces the gun's shoulder rest, with a “support step” that covers the trigger opening. By holding the pistol grip with one hand and pushing forward on the barrel with the other, the shooter's finger comes in contact with the trigger. The recoil causes the gun to buck back and forth, “bumping” the trigger.
Because a bump-stock uses physics to increase the rate of fire and still requires one trigger pull for each round fired, rifles equipped with bump-stocks are still considered legal semi-automatic rifles.
Two “officials familiar with the investigation” told the Associated Press that police are still investigating whether Paddock used the bump-stocks during the massacre. However, audio of the gunfire suggests a higher rate of fire than a traditional semi-automatic rifle, such as the popular AR-15.
It has also been speculated that he may have used fully automatic rifles, which are heavily regulated and extremely difficult and expensive to obtain in the U.S. Police have yet to provide confirmation either way.
The first photos from the shooter’s hotel room also emerged on Tuesday:
— Jacqui Heinrich (@JacquiHeinrich) October 3, 2017
Boston 25’s Jacqui Heinrich posted photos of two of the 23 weapons found in the hotel room.
Police said on Monday they recovered 23 guns from Paddock’s Mandalay Bay hotel room and another 19 from his home in Mesquite, Nevada.
The shooter’s motives are still unclear.