The mass shooting last October in Las Vegas, Nevada that killed 59 people and wounded hundreds more brought to light a relatively novel modification to semiautomatic long guns to enable far higher rates of fire than can be achieved by pulling the trigger for each shot as the weapon was originally designed. So-called “bump stocks” were found installed on multiple weapons used by the Las Vegas shooter, enabling him to achieve a rate of fire that was indistinguishable to responding police from that of a machine gun.
Which he used to kill dozens and dozens of people.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting “bump stocks” were identified as a major contributor the outsize death toll, and lawmakers including Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado got behind legislation to quickly ban their sale. But as we’ve seen countless times in the wake of mass shooting incidents, the impetus for passing legislation quickly faded under intense “management” of the situation by gun lobbyists and PR professionals. Hardcore pro-gun activists like Dudley Brown of the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners in Colorado crassly told news reporters that “bump stocks” were only for enthusiasts to “see what automatic fire sounds like.”
Nonetheless legislation has been introduced this year in the Colorado General Assembly to deal with “bump stocks.” Senate Bill 18-051 bans “multi-burst trigger activators,” including bump stocks and devices that automatically depress the trigger on semiautomatic weapons faster than a human could. And with over 80% of the public supportive of banning “bump stocks,” you’d assume it’s a no-brainer–right?
But as the Denver Post reports, you’d be wrong.
Senate President Kevin Grantham, who had a relative at the concert in Las Vegas where the shooting took place, is a prominent opponent.
“This won’t save a single soul,” the Canon City Republican said. [Pols emphasis] “This won’t help the problem that they perceive. I think all it does is infringe on somebody’s ability to operate within their Second Amendment rights.”
Who would seriously argue that a lower rate of fire in the Las Vegas shooting would not have saved lives? That’s the first clue that something is seriously amiss here. The high rate of fire afforded by the use of high-capacity magazines and “bump stocks” is exactly what made the Las Vegas shooting unprecedented in its destruction.
If that isn’t obvious to you, you’re in very deep denial.
Senate President Kevin Grantham goes on to explain that a ban on “bump stocks” would lead to infringement of “people’s rights to have pieces of equipment,” as if that’s something that doesn’t exist today? Of course there are “pieces of equipment” that are regulated in modern society, many of which are–wait for it–weapons! And that leads to a very basic question for the President of the Colorado Senate: should automatic weapons be legal? Should any weapon be legal? What kind of regulation of guns would not infringe on Second Amendment rights under Grantham’s expansive interpretation?
We’re not asking this question flippantly. Two years ago, Republicans in the Colorado legislature actually introduced legislation to ease to process of acquiring fully automatic weapons that require special licensure from the federal government. It may be wildly out of the mainstream, but it is not at all unreasonable to suggest–underscored by Grantham’s comments about “bump stocks”–that Colorado Republicans don’t support any regulations whatsoever on the type of weapons civilians can legally obtain.
And if that’s what Kevin Grantham believes, let’s stop screwing around and have him say so.
To as many voters as possible.