Political Perspectives: Why gun control won’t happen after Las Vegas

Political perspectives is a column that focuses on providing different opinions on important political issues from UNCW students.

Genevieve Guenther

Political perspectives is a column that focuses on providing different opinions on important political issues from UNCW students.

Jack DeVries, Contributing Writer

Editor’s Note: Jack DeVries is a junior at UNCW studying business. Jack also works as a contributing writer for The Seahawk and is a frequent writer for the Political Perspectives column. All opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. All suggestions and inquiries may be sent via email to [email protected]

The Las Vegas shooting was over three weeks ago, and after a week of gun control talk, most media outlets have gone silent in realization that nothing will happen. Two prominent democrat lawmakers, Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Chris Murphy (CT) tried to push sweeping gun control ideas, but none have stuck. Even republican-led, bipartisan efforts in the House have failed to make any significant progress. With primaries right around the corner, post-Vegas gun control has been effectively avoided by everyone involved.

Bills more likely to garner support, like Senator Feinstein’s Automatic Fire Prevention Act, have been derailed in Congress. This particular bill would have put a ban on bump fire stocks. Bump stocks do not make a gun fire automatically, as Senator Feinstein’s bill would have you think. Rather, bump stocks are an accessory which harnesses the natural recoil in a long rifle so the trigger can be pulled faster, which reduces accuracy. Photographic evidence shows Stephen Paddock may have used this accessory in his October 1 attack in Las Vegas to speed up his rate of fire.

Florida representative Carlos Curbelo (R) proposed a similar bill in the House of Representatives and received bipartisan support. This bill would “prohibit the manufacture, possession, or transfer of any part or combination of parts that is designed and functions to increase the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but does not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun, and for other purposes.” Like Senator Feinstein’s bill, this was also destined to fail.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has also come out in favor of bump stock regulations: “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” according to their website. They also pitched that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms take the lead on any regulations. This is an easy win for the NRA, by keeping congress out of the picture, sweeping gun regulations can be avoided.

Understanding why gun control is (and will remain) stagnant is twofold. One, The NRA’s support of bump stock regulation has effectively deflated any newsworthiness Democrats had. Two, top Congressional leaders are worried about the upcoming budget debate and even more importantly for Democrats, mid-term elections in early November. Congress has every reason to avoid gun control, and was given an easy reprieve by the NRA.

Top democrat Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, has all-but undermined any hopes of gun control by urging his fellow congressmen not to call legislation to vote. Schumer instead hopes that focusing on the economy will be the answer to defending Democrats remaining seats. He hopes to attack Trump’s tax plan; even though 10 democrat seats up for grabs are in states Trump won in 2016.

Schumer is right to avoid gun control with midterms looming. Most post-Vegas polls show that public opinion has not changed on gun control. Regardless of the lack of change in public opinion on gun control, it is important to remember that bump stocks are currently legal alternatives to prohibited automatic fire.

The crux of this issue is that a bump stock ban would not have prevented the Las Vegas attack. Millionaire Stephen Paddock could have alternatively legally purchased an expensive pre-1986 machine gun, just like any less wealthy killer could illegally alter the mechanics on certain AR-15 models to shoot automatically. At the end of the day, anyone who is willing to plan out an attack on a crowd of people won’t stop at being denied a bump stock.