If you’re an NRA lobbyist, munitions obsessive, or just someone who really likes the weapons that were used in last month’s Las Vegas massacre, we have good news…
The United States Congress is working for you!
Yes, at the beginning of October, Capitol Hill rang with a clamor of promises to outlaw bump stocks — a move that was supported by 82 percent of Americans. We’ll repeat that one more time for emphasis: 82 percent of Americans.
If you recall, a bump stock is the device that allowed Vegas killer Stephen Paddock to turn an AR-15 into a veritable machine gun, and slaughter 58 people and leave another 546 wounded. Flash forward to the end of the month, and a bill to ban them is about as dead as — well, yeah.
To be precise, the bill never made it to the floor, per the decision of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who’s had to balance the fact that a bump stock directly allowed Paddock to fire 600 rounds per minute at concertgoers… with the fact that the NRA gives Paul Ryan a metric ton of money. More than anyone else in Congress, if anyone’s counting.
This month’s bump stock non-ban follows a familiar pattern, and here’s how it works: In the wake of a previously unrivaled gun slaughter, public sentiment for gun control surges. This happened during last year’s Orlando nightclub shooting — previously the record holder for modern day mass slaughter in America. It happened before that in San Bernardino, and in Newtown, and at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School. And all the mass shootings in between.
And then, the NRA obfuscates, time elapses, public outrage dies down… and nothing happens.
Basically, the more time goes on, the more that public outrage over gun violence gets swapped out for different forms of outrage. This past month, it’s been kneeling during the national anthem, the vile behavior of Harvey Weinstein and those like him, what President Trump said to a gold star mother, whether Stranger Things is a good show or just a rehashing of nostalgic clichés, and whether Tomi Lahren can break her own record for hypocrisy.
Those issues clearly span a range of importance, but as time has gone by, they’ve all seemed to displace the issue of a mass slaughter by a madman with a homemade machine gun — made possible by a device that Congress could easily ban, but won’t.
So what is going to happen to bump stocks? Well the policymakers in Congress the NRA have decided that any regulation of them should fall to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
Which is highly intentional, since the ATF’s own employees believe they do not have the authority to actually remove bump stocks from the market.
In other words: good news, bump stock lovers! You comprise 18 percent of America, and you’re getting your way!
DO SOMETHING: Here at CAFE, we don’t just talk about the issues you care about — we put your money where our mouth is. If you’d like to take action on gun violence, consider getting involved with organizations like Everytown for Gun Safety, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, or the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. It’s the CAFE way.