Is NRA move to regulate ‘bump stocks’ real or a ruse?

Associated Press


When the National Rifle Association urged the government to revisit whether “bump stocks” should be restricted, it immediately raised eyebrows. Why would the nation’s leading gun-rights organization, not known for compromise, be willing to bend even just a bit when it wields perhaps more influence than ever?

Some gun-industry experts say the NRA’s move is little more than a ruse to stall any momentum for wider gun control until outrage over the Las Vegas attack subsides. It also carries little risk. For one, it’s rare for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to reverse course without a change in the law. For another, “bump stocks” are not big moneymakers for the gun industry. And by seeking an administrative change, rather than a new law, the NRA allows its supporters in Congress to avoid going on the record with a vote.

“They’re dismissed as silly gadgets that really inhibit the accuracy of a firearm. If these bump stocks were super popular among gun owners, we’d see a very different position from the NRA,” said Adam Winkler, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law and author of “Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America.”

The NRA “can throw a sacrificial lamb of ‘bump stocks’ because they know that gun owners don’t use them or like them,” he added.

The devices, originally intended to help people with disabilities, fit over the stock and pistol grip of a semi-automatic rifle and allow the weapon to fire continuously, some 400 to 800 rounds in a single minute, mimicking a fully automatic firearm. Bump stocks were found among the weapons used by Stephen Paddock as he rained bullets from a Las Vegas casino high-rise Sunday. The gunfire killed 58 people at a concert below and wounded hundreds more.

On Thursday, the NRA issued a statement that urged the ATF to review whether the devices comply with federal law and said it “believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

Notably, the nation’s other leading gun lobbying groups, including Gun Owners of America, reiterated their opposition to restricting or banning the devices.

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