How A Bump Stock Device Can Alter Guns

Originally published on October 4, 2017 11:25 pm
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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

When law enforcement officers made their way into Stephen Paddock's 32nd floor hotel room, they found 23 guns, 12 of them with bump stocks attached. The bump stock is a device that can enable a semi-automatic rifle to fire continuously, similar to a fully automatic weapon. Paul Glasco, who reviews guns and gun products on a cable TV program and YouTube channel called "Legally Armed America," demonstrates one here.

(SOUNDBITE OF YOUTUBE VIDEO, "WHAT IS A BUMP FIRE STOCK?")

PAUL GLASCO: All right, guys, let me give you a quick little example of how this thing works. Load it up, charge, let me get on fire. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to hold this vertical grip and I'm going to hold my pistol grip, and I'm going to gently pull them apart. This is how they fire.

(SOUNDBITE OF GUNFIRE)

SIEGEL: For more on this legal gun accessory and the market for it, Paul Glasco joins us from Lake Charles, La. Welcome to the program.

GLASCO: Happy to be here.

SIEGEL: And you've said there's been a lot of misinformation circulating since the Las Vegas shooting about bump stocks. How would you describe this device for an audience that includes many people who don't own guns?

GLASCO: I would describe it as an accessory that can simulate a fully automatic machine gun, AR-15, whatever you want to call it. It gives the appearance and obviously the sound of being fully automatic. But by the - or the ATF, rather, their own definition, it is not a functioning, fully automatic rifle.

SIEGEL: I watched your demonstration of using it. You are not a fan of this device I should tell people, and the very force that's used to make the firing more rapid, which is the kick of the rifle, is what makes it very difficult to handle, I guess, and to aim correctly.

GLASCO: It does. The recoil itself is what makes it tough. You could actually question law enforcement officers and even military folks themselves. And they're not fans of even fully automatic weapons. So it's just a very odd recoil that's pretty hard to control.

SIEGEL: So why - why would a gun owner buy one of these? Would you take it to a firing range, your rifle with a bump stock? Would you - would use this for hunting at all? What's the point of it?

GLASCO: Not for hunting. You wouldn't find any - I don't think any responsible gun owner has any real practical use for it. It is more of a novelty than anything. And I will say that the average person will never shoot a fully automatic AR-15 in our lifetime because of the 1986 ban on fully automatic machine guns, the price of them, even the ones that are available. They're never going to make anymore, so the prices continue to go up. You may pay up to $30,000 to $50,000 for a fully automatic machine gun if you could afford one. This is the poor man's way to experience what it's like to shoot a machine gun.

And everybody because of - I'm not blaming this on Hollywood, but Hollywood has a way of glamorizing things as we all know. And when you see anyone holding any type of an AR-15 type weapon, it's always in fully automatic mode in a movie or a television program. And I think this - it just gives this sensationalism to people in their minds to think I want to do that too and experience that. This is the cheapest alternative to be able to experience it. That's all I can tie to that.

SIEGEL: I mean, one situation sadly in which this device's shortcomings wouldn't be a problem would be if you were firing wildly into a crowd of people and had no specific target. You know, if it's a stupid product that can be used too easily to inflict mass damage in that situation, why not ban it? Why not say this is too much, this is - this is making semi-automatic weapons too close to automatic weapons?

GLASCO: Well, unfortunately, it's not for me to say to make that ruling. I would say that one of our biggest problems without getting into a political conversation is the fact that the left doesn't talk to the right and the right doesn't talk to the left. Neither side is willing to give in anything, and this conversation we keep hearing everyone want to talk about, neither side is really willing to talk about it.

SIEGEL: Is it simply the argument of the slippery slope that you think if there were a discussion of banning bump stocks that it would lead inevitably to banning other things, or is it - is there some inherent value or an element of free choice involved in bump stocks being on the market that's important to a gun owner like yourself?

GLASCO: In many cases, you'll hear me talk about the Second Amendment, but in my opinion, the bump fire stocks are an accessory. I don't personally think the Second Amendment applies to a bump stock accessory. The rifle that it's connected to, yes, absolutely. I would protect that all day long. I don't think that should be banned or taken away. But the accessory itself, that's no different than having a certain scope, for instance. Now, I'm not saying I'm going to lead the charge on banning these things. I'm just saying that I don't see where the Second Amendment directly applies to these devices.

SIEGEL: Mr. Glasco, thanks for talking with us today and describing this device to us.

GLASCO: Sure, not a problem.

SIEGEL: That was Paul Glasco of the cable TV program and YouTube channel "Legally Armed America."

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

And when we mentioned bump stocks on our program yesterday, we said you need a license to buy one. In fact, that's not the case. Bump stocks can be purchased online, no license needed. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.