WASHINGTON — Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-16, is among three Congressional armed services veterans calling for a review of “bump stocks,” the firearm modification device that a shooter in Las Vegas used to allow semi-automatic weapons to fire as if they were fully automatic.
Stephen Paddock unleashed a volley of gunfire on a musical festival crowd Sunday night in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and injuring nearly 500 more. Twelve firearms recovered from the 32nd-story Mandalay Bay hotel room Paddock used as his sniper’s nest were fitted with the devices, investigators say.
Texas-based Slide Fire presented the bump stock device to federal regulators in 2010 as a way to assist people with disabilities to rapidly fire semi-automatic weapons. “Individuals that suffer from severe arthritis, partial paralysis, or other conditions that affect their ability to traditionally operate a firearm can now utilize the SSAR-15 and the muscular strength in their entire arm to active the firing mechanism,” the manufacturer said on its website.
In a demonstration video the company posted on YouTube, Slide Fire says their device is “Freedom Unleashed”:
A semi-automatic weapon requires one trigger pull for each round fired. With a fully automatic firearm, one trigger pull can unleash continuous rounds until the magazine is empty. Bump-stock devices work by manipulating the trigger mechanism extremely rapidly, far faster than a person could do so without them.
The device replaces the gun’s shoulder rest, with a “support step” that covers the trigger opening. By holding the pistol grip with one hand and pushing forward on the barrel with the other, the shooter’s finger comes in contact with the trigger. The recoil causes the gun to buck back and forth, “bumping” the trigger, turning a fully legal semi-automatic weapon into an automatic.
Kinzinger called on federal authorities to immediately review the devices in the aftermath of Sunday’s shooting, the deadliest in U.S. history, surpassing the 49 people killed in an Orlando nightclub in 2016.
“Now is not a time to politicize a tragedy or bring politics into our grieving,” Kinzinger said in a statement, “but it is a time to reflect on what has happened and how we can work constructively on what can be done to curb the impact of these evil, deranged attackers.”
Kinzinger says he was “surprised to learn” that authorities reviewing the bump stock devices deemed them compliant with federal law. The purchasing of fully automatic weapons has been significantly restricted in the U.S. since the 1930s.
In 1986, the federal National Firearms Act was amended further to prohibit the transfer or possession of machine guns by civilians, with an exception for those previously manufactured and registered.
Numerous attempts to design retrofits failed until recent years when bump stocks came on the market.
“The ATF must re-evaluate these devices, and it is my hope that they conclude these mechanisms violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the law,” the Illinois Republican continued. “In the meantime, my colleagues and I will consider legislative options, because these fully-automatic simulator devices have no place in civil society.”
Previous attempts by Congress to regulate bump stocks have been quashed before reaching a vote. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., has advocated against the devices since the ATF certified their sale in 2010, and again in 2012.
“Automatic weapons have been illegal for more than 30 years, but there’s a loophole in the law that can be exploited to allow killers to fire at rates of between 400 and 800 rounds-per-minute,” Feinstein said. “The only reason to fire so many rounds so fast is to kill large numbers of people. No one should be able to easily and cheaply modify legal weapons into what are essentially machine guns.”
Feinstein introduced a Senate bill Wednesday, co-sponsored by Illinois Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, that would ban the sale, transfer, importation, manufacture or possession of bump stocks.
Congressional Republicans indicated Thursday they were open to new legislation over the bump stock devices.
Kinzinger was joined in his letter by Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., a Marine Corps vet, and Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., a retired Air Force Colonel.
Investigators said Thursday that Paddock had previously booked a hotel room overlooking Chicago’s Lollapalooza festival. R.
–With wire reports