By Hernan Prados
America has been suffering and increase in mass shooting in an unprecedented way. Every month there is a new shooting in America. Every year there are more deadly shooting that the previous one, and the question that everyone has is why America? why here? and why so many shootings? The answer to the question may vary depending on who you ask, and what side they are on. From mental health issues to the need for tougher gun control. One side blames the other for not approaching the problem correctly. However, the problem remains unsolved hurting the American people, and the dozens of victims that will keep making headlines on the news after each new attack.
America is a country with a deep-rooted gun culture, guns are part of the American identity. People need to understand that what is happening in America is a clash between the culture and the reality. However, the question is why are those devices legal? why is the government allowing people to access those devices when they cause such destruction? There is no simple answer to the question and it has to do with a technicality and the advancement of gun technology.
The Bump Stocks, are devices that attach to the gun and take advantage of the recoil of the gun to increase the firing velocity. This increases the firing capacity of said gun. The way it works is as follows: The device is attached to the stock part of the gun; the shooter has to hold his or her trigger finger in a set position. Once the shooter activates the trigger, the same recoil force from the gun allows for the gun to bounce back and forward into the Bump stock. This movement forces the trigger finger of the shooter to activate the trigger again. This back and forth allows the shooter to activate the trigger much more rapidly than pulling the trigger manually, what in turn creates the much rapid fire.
The National Firearms Act enacted in 1934 has regulated on a federal level the possession and acquisition of firearms. In 1986, the Act was amended to prohibit civilian from acquiring or possessing a fully automatic weapon. The Act defines machine guns as a weapon that fires multiple rounds of ammunition with s single pull of the trigger. For guns manufactured before 1986, there is a special federal license required in order to comply with the Act. The NFA also prohibits the modifications of the firing mechanism to alter the firing capacity of the gun. For instance, if the trigger on a weapon is modified to allow the firing of multiple rounds of ammunition, the user of the gun would be in violation of the NFA. A perfect example of a gun being modified in violation of the NFA are Glocks and the incorporation of “Chips”. These “Chips” modified the end cap of the gun to allow fully automatic fire. The way they work is as follow: the endcap is modified so when the gun fires, the connector inside the endcap activates the next round. As soon as the gun goes into battery, the connector inside the “Chip” functions as if the shooter would have press the trigger without having to activate the trigger. This modification is regulated under the NFA and the user needs a special license in order to operate the newly transformed weapon. The main difference between this regulated device and the unregulated Bump Stock is the fact that the bump stock modifies the exterior of the gun and not the interior as these “Chips”. Since the Bump Stock is an external accessory and does not modify the internal components of the gun is not included under weapons needing a special license under the NFA. The same sounds, the same performance although different on the eyes of the law.
Some states actually have started taking action after the Vegas Shooting incident and have banned the utilization of these devices for civilians. Massachusetts is one of the states that after the Vegas incident has passed a law regulating and prohibiting the use of the Bump Stocks. Massachusetts actually went a step in further, and actually send letters to more than 400,000-gun license holder to turn in the devices, otherwise, they would be in violation of the recently approved law. What is clear now is that states are moving in and taking action as a matter of state policy. Mainly due to the lack of movement in Washington regarding this topic. Mass shooting is a problem that affects all of us. It is all of us that have to work together to solve an existing societal problem. Whether you think it is mental health issues or lack of gun control, the reason should be irrelevant, and the goal should be to stop the problem. Technology is a double edge sword when it comes to benefiting society, if something is innovative and new that does not always mean it is positive.
I will finish by saying that banning technology should not be the answer, oversight should be. The same as people need driver licenses to operate vehicles, and a special license is also needed to operate machine guns, according to the NFA, the law should require some oversight regarding who has access to these technological devices.
Student Bio: Hernan Prados is a Third-year student at Suffolk University Law School. Hernan is Originally from Spain and he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at Suffolk University.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are the views of the author alone and do not represent the views of JHTL or Suffolk University Law School.