What is a bump stock, how does it work and could device used by Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock be banned?

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BUMP stocks have been thrust into the spotlight after it was revealed the mass murderer Stephen Paddock used the device when he killed 58 people and injured 500 during the Las Vegas gun massacre.

The controversial modifications were largely unheard of outside gun enthusiast circles until the mass shooting. Here’s what we know.

Bump stocks have come under scrutiny in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting

Getty Images – Getty
Bump stocks have come under scrutiny in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting

What is a bump stock?

The device, which sell for around $200, fit over the stock and grip of a semi-automatic rifle and allow the weapon to fire continuously – some 400 to 800 rounds in a single minute.

Bump-fire stocks, also called bump-stocks and slide-fire adapters, allow semi-automatic rifles to fire at a high rate, similar to a machine gun.

But they can be obtained without the extensive background checks required of automatic weapons.

The device causes the gun to buck back and forth, repeatedly “bumping” the trigger against the shooter’s finger. Technically, that means the finger is pulling the trigger for each round fired, keeping the weapon a legal semi-automatic.

Because it creates a significant rocking motion it also means that the gun is “spraying” bullets and it’s difficult to hit a target.

The stocks have been around for less than a decade. Many Capitol Hill Republicans said this week they had never even heard of them before the shooting in Las Vegas.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms during the Obama administration gave its seal of approval to their sale in 2010 after concluding that they did not violate federal law.

It was created to help people with disabilities more easily fire semi-automatic rifles.

Stephen Paddock’s body surrounded by bullet shells and guns

Could they be banned?

The National Rifle Association joined the Trump administration and top congressional Republicans Thursday in a swift and surprising embrace of a restriction on Americans’ guns and regulate the “bump stock” devices the Las Vegas shooter apparently used to horrifically lethal effect.

Thursday’s sudden endorsements of controls came almost simultaneously from the NRA and the White House.

The NRA, which famously opposes virtually any hint of new restrictions, said in a statement: “The National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.

“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

Moments after, at the White House, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders praised the announcement.

“We welcome that and a conversation on that,” Sanders said. “It’s something we’re very open to.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan added his support, as have other top Republicans.

“Obviously we need to look at how we can tighten up the compliance with this law so that fully automatic weapons are banned,” the Wisconsin Republican told reporters at an event in Chestertown, Maryland.

It was a rare concession for all concerned. The nation’s largest gun lobby and most Republicans have stood firmly in recent years against stricter gun regulations, even as one mass shooting after another horrified the nation.

Six brave British soldiers ran towards danger to help victims of Stephen Paddock mass shooting in Las Vegas

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