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After it was revealed Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock's hotel room contained 12 bump stocks, lawmakers across the U.S. began drafting legislation that would ban the device from being purchased.
While the legislation, drafted by California lawmaker Dianne Feinstein (D), has already begun to gain favor among some of her GOP colleagues, the fact remains that many in the general public are ignorant of what a bump stock actually does.
In brief, a bump stock enables a semi-automatic weapon to fire at the rate of an automatic one. Replacing the standard stock — the part of the gun that rests on the user's shoulder — a bump stock allows the weapon to move back and forth more quickly.
Essentially, a bump stock allows the recoil of firing a weapon to be harnessed for the use of firing in rapid succession. The increase in speed often results in a reduction of accuracy. Bump stocks are also considered to be somewhat unsafe for the user.
While bump stocks are not illegal in the United States — even though they essentially convert a semi-automatic weapon to an automatic one — automatic weapons manufactured after May 19, 1986, are illegal to own. (You must have a license to own automatic weapons manufactured before that date.)
According to a Politico report, many firing ranges ban the use of bump stocks, including one range located at the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia.
In the days following what is being called the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, many retailers have pulled bump stocks from their online inventory, according to a recent report by The New York Times.
Of particular note is the fact that when the previous legislation was passed prohibiting the purchase of automatic weapons, bump stocks did not yet exist.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) said he would be unable to voice his opinion on any legislation concerning bump stocks until he learned how the devices work and “how that affects the law,” according to CNN.
As previously reported by IJR, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) appeared, similarly to Corker, to be ignorant of the hows and whys of bump stocks, saying the device is “certainly something that's got my attention, and I think we ought to get to the bottom of it.”