Sometimes in the rush “to do something” after a tragedy, politicians put forward bills that could easily cause more harm than good. The legislation being put forward to ban “bump stocks,” a firearm accessory that uses the recoil of the semi-automatic gun to fire more rapidly, might end up banning all semi-automatic guns. Take a bill in the House by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican, which has 28 co-sponsors. The key part of this bill is that it bans “any part or combination of parts that is [SIC] designed and functions to increase the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle” and “any such part or combination of parts.” The bill is available below. The problem is that this reads so broadly that a semi-automatic gun has parts that when used in combination with a bump stock or other similar device that will increase the rate of fire of a rifle.
People have three types of guns
— Manually loaded guns. After firing a bullet, the shooter has to physically load the next bullet into the chamber of the gun.
— Semi-automatic. One pull of the trigger, one bullet fired, the gun reloads itself. One pull of the trigger, one bullet fired, and so on.
— Fully automatic. As long as the trigger is depressed, bullets will continue being fired. It isn’t necessary to pull the trigger a second time to fire another bullet.
If politicians actually want to ban all semi-automatic guns, they should be explicit and say so. But it would be a real problem for people who use guns in self-defense. Not everyone has time to manually reload their guns when confronted by criminals. If one’s first shot misses or there are multiple criminals, people may not have the time to manually reload their gun so that they have a second or third shot.
A useful video of the differences in the rate of fire between a semi-automatic, a semi-auto with a bump stock, and a fully-automatic gun is available here.