Beyond Banning the Bump Stock: 'Go After the Guns Themselves'

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Beyond Banning the Bump Stock: 'Go After the Guns Themselves'

"You have to go after the guns themselves. Guns are the problem."

Many gun control advocates say incremental changes like a ban on bump stocks, which allegedly has the support of the NRA, is not enough to protect Americans from gun violence. (Photo: Andrew/Flickr/cc)

Pushing past those saying on Thursday that a ban on bump stocks should be "explored," gun control advocates tired of the failed strategy of incremental changes are arguing such measures are simply not enough to rid the U.S. of the persistent threat of gun violence.

In an interview with the Guardian, Igor Volsky, the founder of the group Guns Down, said Sunday's shooting in Las Vegas has shown that taking small steps is not sufficient, using background checks as an example.

"Nobody saw any red flags," said Volsky of the Las Vegas shooter, who passed multiple background checks to obtain more than 40 firearms. "Nobody thought anything was wrong with him. It's not enough to just limit the kind of people who own guns. You have to go after the guns themselves. Guns are the problem."

In his column earlier this week, titled "The Problem Is Guns," The Week's Ryan Cooper echoed the point writing that in the United States "it is easy for someone who feels like mass murder to buy accurate, long-range, rapid-fire weapons, and use them to kill and injure lots of people very quickly."

In its first statement since the shooting, the National Rifle Association (NRA) called on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to review whether bump stocks, the mechanism used by the Las Vegas shooter to allow his semi-automatic weapons to operate as automatic ones, should be banned.

But in the same statement, the powerful gun industry lobbying group called on Congress to pass a National Right-to-Carry law, repeating its common refrain that the right to carry more firearms keeps Americans safe. Informed critics of the group were hardly fooled.


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Following the NRA's lead, the White House said it was open to a discussion of banning bump stocks, while repeating its earlier statement that the Trump administration is focused on "healing and uniting the country" via unspecified means.

While Guns Down's message is more bold than that of other gun control groups, it is not far out of line with the desires of many Americans who want to keep their families safe from gun violence. As the Guardian reported:

Volsky does not say Americans should have no guns, simply that they should have "fewer guns," and that guns should be much harder to obtain. Certain kinds of guns, like military-style "assault weapons," which were banned from 1994 to 2004, "should be banned entirely from the civilian market," he wrote.

It would not be accurate to call his approach radical, Volsky said. "It may be radical here in D.C., where politicians are afraid to cross certain lines. In America nationwide, I don't think ideas like, 'If you need a license to drive a car, you should have a license to purchase a gun' are radical at all."

Indeed, following the shooting in Orlando, Florida that killed 49 people last year, 57 percent of Americans polled by CBS News said they supported a ban on assault weapons.

But as Common Dreams reported on Wednesday, Americans' views on gun control tend to be more moderate when a mass shooting has not just taken place, suggesting that the time to ban assault weapons—and not just bump stocks—is now.

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