The writing is on the wall for bump stocks and Congress should finalize it

The writing is on the wall for bump stocks and Congress should finalize it
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Slide Fire Solutions, a Texas-based company that manufactures firearm accessories, announced last week that it is shutting down production. The company offered no explanation as to why they are shutting their doors, but one can assume that they recognize the writing on the wall. The company is one of many that have made significant changes in the wake of mass carnage perpetrated with their merchandise or products similar to their own. In Slide Fire’s case, the product is infamous: the company manufactures bump stocks, the accessory used in the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Bump stocks — accessories that allow semi-automatic guns to function as fully automatic weapons — garnered significant attention in October 2017. This was when a lone shooter in Las Vegas used them to kill 58 individuals and injure 851 — horrific numbers made possible by the accessory’s lethality. Bump stocks essentially subvert the federal ban on fully automatic firearms  by being manufactured and sold as a separate accessory.

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Since the attack in Las Vegas, however, numerous policymakers have supported a bump stock ban, calling the modest, bipartisan legislation a commonsense step forward on gun violence prevention. Even Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), far from a gun violence prevention champion, recognized a need for a banDespite bipartisan support, however, federal bills to ban bump stocks lingered in committee. As has been the case after most mass shootings, Congress took no action.

 

While blue states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Washington passed laws to ban the accessories, the bump stock debate soon died down. People moved on. It felt as though the moment had passed. It felt as though bump stocks — on the national level — were here to stay.

Then, 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Then, people took to the streets. Then, the gun violence prevention movement was energized like never before. Bump stocks played no role in the shooting, but that didn’t matter. From banning bump stocks to disarming abusers to reinstating the assault weapons ban, student activists in Florida and across the country put all gun violence prevention legislation on the table.

Watching them, elected officials from both parties recognized that they must take action — any action — on gun violence. Contrary to what gun violence prevention advocates expected, President Trump directed the Department of Justice to ban the accessories and hinted that if Congress passed a bill strengthening the ban, he would sign it.

The momentum continued. More states took legislative action. Bump stock bans passed in gun-friendly states like Florida and Vermont, and they continue to move forward in multiple states like Connecticut, Ohio, and Hawaii. The public and political appetite for a ban on these accessories is strong, and it’s unrelenting.

Companies are bowing to public pressure, changing their policies, and even closing their doors. States are changing their laws. Now is the time for Congress to act and create a national solution. Trump’s executive order, while a step in the right direction, is not enough; rather than leave a ban caught in the regulatory system and then the courts, Congress needs to do its job and legislate. Slide Fire Solutions’ closing is a harbinger of the positive changes still to come.

Banning bump stocks will not significantly reduce day-to-day gun violence; we must continue to pursue additional gun violence prevention policies. But a bump stock ban is a necessary step to deprive the next mass shooter of unnecessary killing power. There is no reason that Congress can not act now. We must demand that they do so.

Josh Horwitz is the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.