There’s that scene in Star Wars Episode VI when the Rebel Alliance finds itself between the Death Star and the Imperial Fleet to which Admiral Ackbar shouts, “It’s a trap!” It’s a line used heavily in pop culture—and that’s all I can say to the Republican Party as they consider joining Democrats to ban “bump stocks.”
The device is used to increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon. It’s not the same as automatic—and no, it doesn’t convert a semiautomatic system into an automatic one. That falsehood surely made its rounds yesterday. At least some outlets were somewhat more accurate in their descriptions in that bump stocks mimic automatic fire, but I digress. It merely uses the recoil as a means to increase the rate of fire.
Twelve of the 23 firearms that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock brought into his suite in the Mandalay Bay hotel had a bump stock. Paddock used his 32nd floor room as a vantage point to open fire on the 22,000 concertgoers who were attending the final night of the Route 91 Harvest music festival. He killed 58 people and wounded close to 500 more; police revised the number down to 489 people, 317 of which have been discharged from medical centers. Paddock killed himself before authorities breached his room.
Now, the GOP is considering partnering up with Democrats to ban bump stocks (via NYT):
For a generation, Republicans in Congress — often joined by conservative Democrats — have bottled up gun legislation, even as the carnage of mass shootings grew ever more gruesome and the weaponry ever more deadly. A decade ago, they blocked efforts to limit the size of magazines after the massacre at Virginia Tech. Five years later, Republican leaders thwarted bipartisan legislation to expand background checks of gun purchasers after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Last year, in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, they blocked legislation to stop gun sales to buyers on terrorism watch lists.
But in this week’s massacre in Las Vegas, lawmakers in both parties may have found the part of the weapons trade that few could countenance: previously obscure gun conversion kits, called “bump stocks,” that turn semiautomatic weapons into weapons capable of firing in long, deadly bursts.
“I own a lot of guns, and as a hunter and sportsman, I think that’s our right as Americans, but I don’t understand the use of this bump stock,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said, adding, “It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on.”
Other Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida, said they would be open to considering legislation on bump stocks.
“We certainly want to learn more details on what occurred in Las Vegas,” Mr. Rubio said, “and if there are vulnerabilities in federal law that we should be addressing to prevent such attacks in the future, we would always be open to that.”
In the House, Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, said he was drafting bipartisan legislation banning the conversion kits. Representative Mark Meadows, the head of the conservative Freedom Caucus, also said he would be open to considering a bill, while Representative Bill Flores, Republican of Texas, called for an outright ban.
“I think they should be banned,” Mr. Flores told the newspaper The Hill. “There’s no reason for a typical gun owner to own anything that converts a semiautomatic to something that behaves like an automatic.”
The Hill added that Democrats are pleading with President Trump to sit down with them on gun control:
Trump’s history has not been overlooked by the Democrats, who are already encouraged by a pair of recent agreements on government spending and immigration –– the first finalized, the second tentative –– between the president and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill.
Hoping to build on that bipartisan cooperation, a group of almost 100 House Democrats sent a letter to Trump Wednesday urging the president to join their effort to combat the gun-violence plague that was highlighted so tragically Sunday in Las Vegas.
Behind Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), head of the Democrats’ gun-violence prevention task force, the lawmakers are practically pleading with Trump to sit down with them in search of reforms that could break the barriers erected by GOP leaders in Congress.
“You have the power to make real change in America and protect our communities from the senseless gun violence like we saw in Las Vegas. Together, we can find common ground that respects and supports the 2nd Amendment while keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them –– criminals and the dangerously mentally ill,” the Democrats wrote.
“We are reaching out to you, please: join us in the fight to end gun violence."
We all know the drill here: you give a Democrat an inch and they take several hundred miles. Bump stocks are banned, but what about so-called high-capacity magazines? Why not military-looking rifles? Why not certain types of ammunition? Why not placing limits on how many guns you can buy? Why not a ban on firearms? This is the road we’re going to go down with these people. We all see their allies on the anti-gun Left; they want to end gun ownership. They want to gut the Second Amendment and put our Constitution through the shredder. Bump stocks are mainly used for recreational shooting and have been—until this incident—rarely used in gun crimes. Mass shootings are still rare and are not the majority of gun crimes in America. Not even close. Background checks wouldn’t have stopped Paddock either. There’s talk from the Left about the cumulative effect of anti-gun legislation having an impact on reducing gun violence. That’s pure crap and bad policy. It’s a fancy way of saying it won’t do anything, but we can score political points for having done something…with consequences that likely weren’t considered when pondering such shoddy gun legislation. FiveThirtyEight has concluded that focusing only on mass shootings is a bad compass on policy navigation. They’re right. The data crunching site has selected numerous, smaller scale, and more targeted ways of combating gun crime, but the Left won’t like it because it doesn’t chip away at gun rights.
There is no downside whatsoever to not passing, or even blocking, more redundant gun control laws. Working with Democrats on gun policy is a very dangerous game; Republicans should avoid working with them altogether on this issue. We all know what their end goal is and it’s not just expanded background checks.