By: Robert Davis
Following the massacre at the hands of Stephen Paddock in Las Vegas last year, bump stocks moved to the top of the list of items ripe for banning, because, according to reports, Paddock was able to carry out his carnage with the aid of these firearms accessories.
It turns out, however, that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) was “not allowed to physically examine the interior of the weapons,” according to a Freedom of Information Act disclosure attained by Stephen Stamboulieh, a firearms lawyer in Missouri.
“I don’t think people are asking the right questions about this shooting,” Stamboulieh told Gunpowder Magazine. “For instance, we don’t know for sure whether any other modifications were made to Paddock’s weapons.”
Shortly after the Las Vegas shooting, the ATF published a notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register to classify bump stocks as a machine guns. The comment period for the rule ended in late July. New Jersey, Vermont, Hawaii, Florida, Maryland, Washington, and Connecticut currently outlaw bump stocks.
“This rule could make instant felons out of nearly a half-million responsible gun owners because of the action of one person,” Stamboulieh said. “But the ATF and FBI won’t say definitively whether there were any illegal modifications to Paddock’s weapons.”
Stamboulieh has filed multiple FOIAs with the ATF and has also filed a lawsuit against the FBI to reveal what they know about the case, because, he says, they refused to comply with multiple FOIAs he has filed.
Pew Research Center found that Americans spent more than $96 million on bump stocks between 2011 and 2017. Each bump stock carries a price tag between $180 and $425.
“Without knowing what the government is doing, we wouldn’t be having this discussion,” Stamboulieh said.
As Gunpowder Magazine reported in April:
“Banning bump stocks doesn’t affect most gun owners, and most of them don’t care about bump stocks, but the precedent such action sets, especially at the federal level, is significant. There is a bigger reason why bump stocks matter. Why do we need the federal government and state governments in the business of regulating, banning, and otherwise meddling with gun accessories? Isn’t it bad enough they are banning guns and magazines left and right?
“That’s why many gun owners are determined to fight this – not so much for what banning bump stocks does, but for what it may lead to.
“Knee-jerk reactions to violence are not new. People forget that some of the first major efforts to ban and restrict access to guns came after the Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1927, where Chicago gangsters got into a gunfight, and seven involved were killed by thugs using Thompson submachine guns. After this incident, the first iterations of background checks and huge taxes on automatic weapons were made law.
“Fast-forward to 1986, when Congress banned automatic weapons altogether.
“And yet, the worst shootings with the most carnage are happening today in an America without automatic weapons and with new gun restrictions going on the books in state after state.
“Look no further than Baltimore (recently named ‘the nation’s most dangerous city’) and Chicago to see how gun control ends up ‘working.’ It doesn’t.”
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. Contact him with comments or tips at Robertdavis0414@gmail.com.