While the Washington State Legislature appears determined to ban “bump stock” devices, a move supported by newspaper editorials including one in the Daily Olympian, there appears to be overwhelming opposition to the idea, both in the Evergreen State and across the country.
The Trace reported Tuesday that after the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives called for public comment on bump stock regulation in response to the Oct. 1 Las Vegas mass shooting, the agency received more than 36,000 responses. Of those, the Trace estimates that “more than 32,000” were downloaded and analyzed, and found that “The comments overwhelmingly opposed regulating bump stocks. Only 13 percent were in support of the proposal to regulate the devices.”
A smaller, but equally lopsided, unscientific survey of people who have watched a Seattle Channel “City Inside/Out” program last week about banning bump stocks in Washington resulted in more than 2,900 responses so far. Of those, 2,855 oppose a ban on the devices, only 49 support and six people were undecided.
“In the week following the Las Vegas massacre on October 1, polls showed that nearly 75 percent of registered voters in gun-owning households supported a ban on bump stocks. Yet despite the public sentiment, an analysis by The Trace of comments submitted in response to a government proposal to regulate bump stocks shows that 85 percent of commenters opposed the measure.”—The Trace
Prior to last Oct. 1, virtually nobody outside of the shooting community, and a lot of shooters as well, had ever heard of bump stocks. They are designed to mount on AK or AR type rifles to use recoil to speed up trigger pull and the rate of fire. The guns remain semiautomatic – there are no alterations of the action – but they put a lot of lead downrange.
But until Stephen Paddock apparently used a couple of guns fitted with bump stocks in his rampage, there apparently were no other crimes ever committed with the devices.
Still, the gun prohibition lobby wants them banned. The argument is that getting rid of bump stocks will prevent them from ever being used again in a mass shooting. Other than this fear, there is no evidence that might happen.
What would the reaction be from the Left if there were a sudden and well-financed effort to ban marijuana use in states where it has been legalized to prevent people from driving stoned and causing fatal traffic accidents? Last August, the Denver Post reported that “traffic fatalities linked to marijuana are up sharply in Colorado.”
There was a subhead that noted, “Authorities say the numbers cannot be definitively linked to legalized pot.”
Bump stocks have been banned in Massachusetts and Columbia, S.C.
Rights advocates contend that it is not the bump stock that is at issue, but the ban on a piece of equipment that isn’t even a rifle. And they are willing to draw a line in the sand over the devices, because banning them will be a victory for anti-gunners who have their sights set on the next step, and that would be a ban on so-called assault rifles.
Legislation aimed at heavily regulating semi-auto modern sporting rifles was being pushed in Washington this year, but the proposal didn’t really get off the ground. That may leave the door open to an initiative campaign against those firearms.
The concern in the Second Amendment community is that anti-gunners never seem satisfied, they always want more. A bump stock ban may not prevent a single future crime, but it would be a “symbolic” victory, a trophy of sorts to merely embolden gun prohibitionists to take the next step. And the next. And the next one after that.