Those “bump stocks” like the devices used by the Las Vegas mass killer are now well-known to Americans. News reports have defined the devices – apparently used by Stephen Paddock to kill 58 people and wound more than 500 more – as attachments that allow someone to convert a semi-automatic weapon to essentially automatic, though automatic weapons have been banned since 1986.
There’s no reason, no legitimate reason, for a “hunter” or a “sportsman” to need such a device, any more than those individuals need a semi-automatic device. But though the National Rifle Association, which typically opposes virtually all additional gun control even after catastrophes such as this one, has endorsed the idea of additional regulation on bump stocks, and members of Congress have indicated they favor more regulation, it’s too early to bet on anything happening.
The NRA’s political strategy of contributing heavily to those members of Congress who tow the NRA line and to bombard opponents with campaign money on the opposing side has worked for decades, and there’s no reason to believe the organization is going to have some kind of revelation. Wait and see: When the debate over the bump stocks gets serious, the NRA will intervene with measures to weaken whatever regulations Congress may consider.
It’s then that constituents have an opportunity to take the measure of those who represent them: Will they stand for safety and the interest of the people, or bow to the wishes of their big contributors from the NRA? Many a member has claimed the former while doing the latter. We hope it doesn’t happen this time. We hope.