While bump stocks are taking criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike, it is interesting to note that the devices were approved for sale in 2010 by Barack Obama’s ATF.
The ATF approved the devices because they do not convert a semiautomatic rifle into an automatic. Rather, they are an accessory that allows semiautomatic rifle owners to mimic automatic fire for short bursts.
According to the Washington Post, Rick Vasquez, the ATF official who signed off on non-regulation for bump stocks, described them as “a goofy, little doodad.” This squares with the Breitbart News report that bump stocks “are for novelty, not accuracy.” They are devices that allow bursts of rapid fire but are unpredictable because the gun’s buffer tube can bounce around or bobble inside the device, making jams and inconsistent fire patterns likely.
Vasquez, a former Marine, put is this way: “[Bump stocks are] for those guys who want to look like super ninja when they’re out on the range — they’re the people my peer group makes fun of. If you want a machine gun, join the Marines.”
Lost in Vasquez’s humor is the fact that not everyone will join the Marines and very few people can afford their own machine gun, with prices starting at roughly $15,000. So a bump stock is a $200 substitute that allows cash-strapped citizens to mimic real machine guns on the cheap.
But bump-stocks may be facing an uphill battle, as Sen Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is calling for a ban on the devices and numerous GOP Senators–including John Cornyn and John Thune–admit unfamiliarity with the devices yet still express openness to a hearing on a ban. Moreover, Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) made clear his belief that “typical gun owners” do not need bump stock devices.