I don’t expect the people at Salon to understand much about guns. Most of them wouldn’t know the difference between fully-auto or semi-auto if it jumped up on their face and wiggled. Yet, as a large-ish news outlet, I do expect them to try and figure out just what is going on before they write something and not just pay lip service to things.
Most journalists who cover gun violence could have predicted this, but it doesn’t make it any less sickening: As soon as it was revealed that Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas mass shooter who killed 59 people and injured more than 500 others more, had used a bump-fire stock to modify his semiautomatic rifles into simulated machine guns, sales of the device soared. Both The Trace and the New York Times found that the item was sold out everywhere. The company that makes this delightful innovation, Slide Fire, initially reported the device was out of stock, and now seems to be so overwhelmed by demand it has stopped taking back orders.
It’s a grim reminder of one major reason the National Rifle Association and the gun industry work so hard to derail any efforts to prevent mass shootings: They’re good for business.
First, the NRA works to “derail” gun control legislation because it almost never would have prevented the tragedy in question. Following the Pulse shooting last year, the push was to block gun sales to people on the No-Fly list…even though that shooter wasn’t on it. Following Newtown, the call was for universal background checks…despite that shooter having stolen his guns from his mother, who he also murdered.
By saying the NRA and others in the gun industry works to derail efforts to prevent mass shootings is nonsensical in light of the fact that nothing that was proposed would have prevented any mass shooting ever.
Second, the implication here is absolutely sick. Salon is implying that people buy the device used in such tragedies because…I don’t know what they’re trying to say exactly, but it’s as if they think we look at something like Las Vegas and see it as a testing ground.
Look, it’s not like we see Las Vegas, hear bump-fire stock, then say, “Well, hell! If it’ll kill that many people, I just got to get me one of them!” That doesn’t enter our minds. At all.
The implication that it does is beyond offensive, it’s outright insulting.
Yet Salon hints at the reason, then whiffs completely on it.
There are other explanations, of course, for the surge of gun sales after a mass shooting. The most persuasive is the fear that the firearms used in such a gruesome event will soon be subject to restrictions, so there’s a rush to buy them before they are no longer available. No doubt that fuels some of the sales, as evidenced by similar gun sales spikes when Democrats take office and cause similar concerns about regulation.
But let’s face it. We’ve all gone through this cycle over and over again. At this point, surely even the most paranoid gun nuts must know that there’s no number of dead bodies in the street that will compel Republicans to do anything about the problem.
True, some Republicans have cautiously signed on to banning bump-fire stocks, and even the NRA has signaled it may be open to a “review” of these devices. But that alone doesn’t really explain the made rush to buy these things. Even the most ardent gun-humper can’t pretend there’s any pragmatic value in being able to spray automatic-style fire over a wide space. As C.J. Chivers of the New York Times said, the only reason people buy them is for the fun of getting to feel like you’re firing a machine gun. (Or, I suppose, because you’re planning a mass murder.)
The NRA is backing the potential for legislation. The Speaker of the House, a Republican, is open for banning these devices. And this writer thinks no one can seriously believe these devices will be banned? Really?
The truth is that I considered buying one of these stocks the moment I read Feinstein’s bill, and I have zero interest in bump-fire. I also have zero interest in the government telling me what I can and can’t buy for my firearms. It’s just that simple, and I’m not alone in that. These devices have been around for years, and most of the people who wanted bump-fire stocks so they could bump-fire more easily already had them.
What’s happening now is simply people wanting to make sure they have the option of using it should Uncle Sam decide to play nanny and tell us that no, we may not do what we please despite being grown men and women.
That’s the entire point, and if the Salon writer had bothered to try and ask any of us why we were buying these things, we’d have told her. But that would have been beneath her, I’m sure.