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CONNECTIONS: If it quacks like a duck

A bump stock enabled the single deadliest shooting in US history.

So, what does happen when the fox is guarding the hen house? You get legalized bump stocks.

A bump stock is a device that greatly increases the rate of fire of semiautomatic weapons. A bump stock has no other purpose than to increase the rate of fire.

They were invented to kill faster That is all: just kill, maim, hobble, hurt, and permanently damage much faster. They even render the weapon less accurate—but faster.

The incident that encouraged the 2017 ban of bump stocks was a mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 1, 2017. It was the final night of a country music festival, and 22,000 unsuspecting souls were in attendance.

The mass shooting occurred between 10:05 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. It took just 10 minutes to fire 1,000 rounds—100 shots per minute for 10 minutes. One man hit over 500 people in 10 minutes. Fifty-eight died, and over 450 were injured in just 10 minutes.

The man was firing from a window on the 32nd floor of a nearby building. From that distance, the shooter could not distinguish whom he shot. The bump stock simultaneously increases speed as it decreases accuracy. If the shooter had an intended victim, the bump stock would have prevented him from hitting his target. The bump stock enabled a disaster of mass proportions—aimless, senseless, and without caring for the lives ended and the lives shattered. A bump stock enabled the single deadliest shooting in U.S. history.

Hey folks, let’s legalize that.

The ban the Supreme Court struck down was enacted during the Trump administration by executive order. Then President Trump personally directed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to ban the bump stock and give owners 90 days to destroy or turn in all bump stocks, the little platstic gizmo’s that turned their semiautomatic rifles into machine guns (machine guns were outlawed in 1934.

In a 6–3 ruling, on June 14, 2024, the United States Supreme Court invalidated a federal ban on bump stocks, demonstrating that the members of the Supreme Court—described as a majority far right—are equal-opportunity idiots.

The friends and relatives of those killed, the doctors and nurses who saw the horrific wounds, the terrorized members of the festival crowd that survived, they all liked and were heartened by the ban. The dead would have approved. It was hard to imagine that even gun owners were displeased. The vast majority of gun owners have no wish to injure and kill over 500 in the span of 10 minutes.

It was almost impossible to find anyone who opposed banning bump stocks. Oh, except the Supreme Court.

The ruling found that the ATF exceeded its authority when it issued the ban in 2017. Justice Sonia Sotomayor read her dissenting opinion from the bench.

Writing for the majority, Justice Clarence Thomas opined, “A bump stock does not convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun any more than a shooter with a lightning-fast trigger finger does … Even with a bump stock, a semiautomatic rifle will fire only one shot for every ‘function of the trigger…This case asks whether a bump stock — an accessory for a semiautomatic rifle that allows the shooter to rapidly reengage the trigger (and therefore achieve a high rate of fire) — converts the rifle into a ‘machine gun.’ We hold that it does not.”

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in the dissenting opinion, wrote, “A bump-stock-equipped semiautomatic rifle fires automatically more than one shot without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. Because I, like Congress, call that a machine gun, I respectfully dissent.”

Sotomayer read her dissent from the bench adding, “if it quacks like a duck …”

Thomas, with a nod to its invention in 2000, with a tortured definition of how the “replacement of the standard stock on an AK platform firearm” works, and an acknowledged that the bump stock makes any firearm “much faster,” returned this plastic devise to the marketplace.

I wonder which of the almost 500 injured victims or the thousands of relatives and friends of the dead and injured care about Thomas’ opinion. On the other hand, they know Sotomayer is right, “If it quacks like a duck …”


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