Banning bump stocks is a start, but our efforts can't end there

Banning bump stocks is a start, but our efforts can't end there
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As the country continues to grapple with what happened in Las Vegas last week, many are struggling to understand why this tragedy occurred. Seeking answers in the wake of such horror is human nature. We want an easy explanation.

Unfortunately, as the investigation continues, it seems we may not get one. We may never fully understand the motive behind this tragedy. But that does not mean we cannot prevent senseless gun violence. In fact, we can take steps to stop gun violence by focusing on a more productive question: "How?"

How did the killer inflict devastation on such a scale? How did his plans go undetected? How was he able to acquire his arsenal? How can we prevent this from happening again?


The killer in Las Vegas was able to amass a massive amount of ammunition, accessories designed to maximize lethality, and nearly 50 handguns and assault rifles — most of them acquired within a one year period — without raising any red flags. With this arsenal, he was able to kill 59 people and injure hundreds more from 500 yards away within minutes.

In Las Vegas and in cities across the country, guns are the common denominator in these attacks. Guns are the "how." More than 90 people die from gun violence every day. Other weaponry does not cause this type of devastation with this frequency.

Following the tragedy in Las Vegas, the discussion of preventative policies has largely centered around bump stocks — attachments that allow semi-automatic guns to simulate automatic fire. Fully automatic weapons are already banned — it should go without saying that accessories that allow semi-automatic weapons to function as such should also be banned.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? The Pelosi administration It's not populism that's killing America's democracy MORE (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLawmakers outline proposals for virtual voting Overnight Health Care: Trump calls report on hospital shortages 'another fake dossier' | Trump weighs freezing funding to WHO | NY sees another 731 deaths | States battle for supplies | McConnell, Schumer headed for clash Phase-four virus relief hits a wall MORE (R-Ky.) should take immediate action to ban bump stocks. But banning bump stocks will not make a significant dent in the gun violence we see every day. We must demand that our leaders take other types of action that can prevent this day-to-day devastation.

One such policy is permit-to-purchase requirements. It is absurd the Las Vegas shooter was able to amass dozens of high-powered assault weapons in one year without anyone taking notice. Policies requiring a permit to purchase a firearm could have raised red flags prior to the massacre. Permit-to-purchase policies can alert authorities when an individual is stockpiling a large number of assault rifles and accessories; this allows officials to investigate individuals who may be dangerous or planning rampages like the one we saw last week.

Additionally, renewing the assault weapons ban and including high-capacity magazines in such a ban is a critical component of gun violence prevention. Semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines have been weapons of choice in previous mass shootings. Banning bump stocks while allowing citizens to amass semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines only addresses a fraction of the problem.    

Gun violence does not have a quick fix, and no single policy can prevent all gun deaths. Solving our gun violence epidemic will require a number of interconnected policies that can identify dangerous individuals through their behavioral patterns and prevent them from acquiring highly lethal weapons and accessories.

Banning bump stocks is a good start, and we should fully support legislation to ban these accessories. But we know we must do more. We know there are many policies that will work to prevent gun violence. Now is the time to advocate for those policies. Now is the time to demand change.

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