RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/AP) — Semi-automatic weapons have received a lot of attention and caused a lot of controversy following mass shootings in the past few years, but it’s an accessory for a semi-automatic weapon that’s now drawing scrutiny as officials say the Las Vegas shooter used a device called a bump stock to fire hundreds of rounds.
“What you do is, you have a semi-automatic rifle and you push forward on the rifle while pulling back on the trigger and as the gun recoils and your hand pulls it forward, it fires again so it lets you fire what would normally be a single-shot gun faster,” said Phillip Van Cleave with the gun rights group Virginia Citizens Defense League. Van Cleave says the device is legal in many states including here.
“It’s perfectly legal to own something like that in Virginia and I believe most states.”
Van Cleave says the device has been around for years and that he doesn’t believe it should be restricted now.
“You’re wasting your time, there are thousands and thousands of them out there and they’ve been out there for probably at least eight, nine,10 years.”
Authorities across the country have criticized the device in the past. Critics have called it a way to circumvent laws making automatic guns illegal.
“Bunch of people are hurt badly with a car intentionally driven over them, nobody’s calling for car control, because it wouldn’t make any sense,” said Van Cleave.
Erich Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, said the industry is prepared to have the devices scrutinized by lawmakers and gun-control advocates. That happens regularly after a major shooting. But he and others defended their use, suggesting it’s unfair to go after firearms when other weapons — trucks and fertilizer, for example — aren’t as quickly criticized after deadly attacks.
“Ultimately, when Congress … looks at this, they’ll start asking questions about why anybody needs this, and I think the answer is we have a Bill of Rights and not a Bill of Needs,” Pratt said.