Irrespective of whether the Las Vegas gunman achieved fully-automatic fire via (a) a true fully-automatic weapon, (b) an illegally-converted semi-automatic, or (b) a “bump-fire” stock, the fact remains: this is only the third time in the last 83 years, the last being the North Hollywood shootout of 1997, that a fully-automatic weapon–converted, modified, or otherwise–has been used in a violent crime.
In the coming weeks, we will learn the ugly, sordid truth of this gunman. Initially, he appears to be a wealthy man with no criminal record or social media presence, otherwise irreligious and apolitical, who flipped the mother of all switches and meticulously planned and executed the worst mass shooting in American history since Wounded Knee.
If he had a religious or political motive for his attack, we will eventually find it. Many on the Left are praying to Molech that he was an honors graduate of Bob Jones University with a Life Membership in the NRA, whereas many on the Right are hoping he had found death-worshiping religion in Mosul.
At this point, for all we know, he was Atheist, agnostic, or simply had not given much thought to the matter while making his millions.
Initial reports say he was prescribed Valium for anti-anxiety, but other than that his mental health record appears clear. Other reports say he may have had some social issues–often unkempt, frequently berated his girlfriend in public–but was otherwise functional enough to be a successful businessman who made a lot of money and was at least able to have relationships with the opposite sex.
(That would rule out the possibility of him being an angry omega male who, out of despondency over unrequited love, jumped off the proverbial cliff.)
The emerging reports, and the crime-scene photos, indicate that the gunman, in order to achieve fully-automatic fire, used “bump-fire” stocks, rifle stocks which use the recoil to facilitate the manual use of the trigger, thereby achieving quasi-full-automatic functionality with semi-automatic action.
A bump-fire stock, while providing near-full-auto fire, does so at the cost of accuracy, as it requires a more deliberate use of the hand muscles to maintain fire. At the same time, because he was shooting into a crowd at a concert, he was effectively shooting fish in a barrel.
As I write this, the death toll is 58 (the official toll is 59, but I’m not counting the gunman, nor should you), with over 500 wounded. If the reports are correct, then everyone who made it to the hospital alive is still alive as of this writing.
As expected, the Leftards jumped on the wagon for gun control. Hillary Clinton broke from her Blame Everyone But Myself book tour to tweet for more gun control; Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation targeting “bump-fire” stocks.
The NRA, to their credit, has been relatively cool in their response, as well they should be.
Here’s my take…
First off, a couple of disclosures:
(1) I oppose the Hughes Amendment of the Volkmer-McClure Act of 1986 (also known as the Firearm Owners Protection Act). If I were President, I would strike down the Hughes Amendment.
(The Hughes Amendment bans the manufacture of fully-automatic weapons for civilian purchase. Those manufactured before 1986 were grandfathered in, so that way existing machine gun owners would not be turned into instant criminals. The upshot: machine guns made before 1986 are still legal for purchase, anything after that is only legal for military and law enforcement and drug cartels of the government’s choosing…)
(2) I oppose the inclusion of suppressors (also known as “silencers”) under the Class 3 umbrella. Those, which are not a tool of criminals except in the movies, are a legitimate accessory for hearing protection and ought to be available for open purchase.
(3) I do support the inclusion of fully-automatic weapons in the world of Class 3 firearms. Those who would purchase them should require some vetting. What we saw in Vegas is exactly why we need that. It would not have prevented the Vegas gunman from obtaining them–he had the clean record and the deep pockets–but it would give more latitude to government to provide more extensive vetting that would keep the mentally-ill, or those discharged from the military for reasons other than Honorable or Medical, from obtaining machine guns. (While a Dishonorable Discharge is disqualifying, other less-than-honorable discharges short of that are not.)
In other words, some folks, on the margins, who would otherwise qualify to purchase semi-autos, may be worthy of exclusion from purchasing full-auto, as full-auto ought to have a higher bar.
But what about bump-fire stocks?
While technically legal for general purchase, bump-stocks effectively convert a semi-automatic firearm into a full-auto. This would seem to, at the very least, make them worthy of inclusion under the Class 3 umbrella.
Currently, the Leftards would like to ban bump-stocks altogether. Some Republicans are also entertaining the idea.
Here’s what I would support:
(1) Repeal the Hughes Amendment, making all full-autos available for purchase via the Class 3 process. This would drive down the price of full-autos and expand the ability of law-abiding citizens to own them.
(2) Remove all suppressors from Class 3 status, making them universally-available for purchase as an accessory.
(3) Classify bump-fire stocks as Class 3 firearms, requiring the regular Class 3 background check for purchase, but with the $5 tax instead of the $200 tax.
The only problem with (3) is how to enforce it against those already out there? You’d have to have some sort of grandfather clause. The problem is they aren’t stamped, and anyone with a 3-D printer and the CNC know-how can manufacture one.
You could include a window of time for the grandfather clause–during which you can get it stamped, having the larger background check waived and even receive a $200 rebate from the government–but after that, anyone caught with an unstamped bump-fire stock would have it confiscated (but would not be prosecuted).
And once the window closes, all legal transfers of bump-fires would have to occur via the Class 3 process, with violations of that resulting in confiscation but not prosecution. Any use of them in the commission of a violent crime, however, would result in a mandatory minimum of life imprisonment.
That would ensure that (a) those who want real-deal full-autos can get them at reasonable prices, while still requiring vetting, (b) those who want suppressors can get them easily, and (c) those who want bump-fires can still get them–at reasonable prices–but would require a class 3 vetting that includes a nominal tax, with penalties minimal for those not committing violent crimes.