In a 4-to-3, party-line vote, the House Militia, Police and Public Safety subcommittee killed a bill yesterday that would ban bump stocks — a mechanism, made notorious by October 1 mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music concert, which allows semiautomatic weapons to fire more like automatic weapons.
I’m skeptical of many gun control measures and much of the rhetoric emanating from anti-gun crusaders, but after the Las Vegas massacre, which left 58 people dead and 851 injured, I figured it would be no-brainer to ban bump stocks. I’m not a gun owner — indeed, the only gun I’ve ever shot was a 22-caliber rifle when I was 12 years old — so I’ll confess to a vast depth of ignorance on the subject. But I can see no possible justification for bump stocks, which are clearly meant to circumvent the ban on automatic weapons.
Las Vegas provided a vivid example of how bump stocks can be used to magnify the horror of a mass shooting. A bump stock ban would not have stopped the shooting, but it would’ve given people “time to run and take cover,” argued 40-year-old Cortney Carroll of Henrico County, a survivor of the shooting who testified before the subcommittee, as reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
There’s something to be said for making weapons less deadly, for having fewer people killed in mass shootings.
At the hearing, Del. Thomas C. Wright Jr., R-Lunenburg, said evil can move people to use anything to cause mayhem, “whether they use trucks, cars, box cutters, knives or whatever. … Regardless of what laws we pass, until the evil in men’s hearts change, it’s not going to solve the problem.”
There is some truth in what he says. But, by that logic, why not allow people to own self-propelled grenades, mortars, bazookas, and anti-tank rockets? Why deprive Americans of the entertainment value in going out to an empty field and blowing stuff up? After all, we can’t change the evil in men’s hearts. But, in fact, we don’t allow civilians to play with such toys because the potential for abuse is too horrifying.
It strikes me that the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, has raised the bar for all potential maniacs, terrorists, and death-by-coppers. If your goal is to cause as much mayhem as possible, how stupid do you have to be to not add a bump stock to your semi-automatic?
Wright is right to say that determined people will always find a way to commit mass murder. As long as no fundamental freedom is being infringed — and the right to bear bump stocks is not a fundamental freedom — let’s not make it easy for them.