Gun debate finds new focus in device converting semi-auto rifles to rapid fire

Posted at 6:18 PM, Oct 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-04 21:39:11-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The national gun debate following the mass shooting in Las Vegas has found a focus in a device shooter Stephen Paddock possessed that converts a semi-automatic weapon into something mimicking a machine gun.

They're called bump stocks.

Bump stocks are a strange invention for an activity like shooting that focuses on steadiness and precision, because they rely on a constant, violent bouncing (or bumping) motion to allow a gun to fire as many as 400 rounds a minute.

The devices fill a void for those who want a rapid fire weapon but can't legally own a machine gun, which are heavily regulated. Machine guns are defined in federal law as weapons that fire multiple rounds with one trigger pull.

Two of Utah's three major candidates for the open 3rd District congressional seat talked with Fox 13 about the issue. Democrat Kathie Allen and United Utah candidate Jim Bennett see the devices as a common sense middle ground.

"I don't know why anyone needs these sorts of weapons," Allen said. "They look like something that you would use against an enemy in a war, and hopefully your fellow American citizens and residents are not your enemy."

"I think anything that can transform a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon should be illegal," Bennett said.

Both candidates added that other technology, like biometric locks and triggers, would also cut down on gun deaths.

Fox 13 reached out to Republican candidate John Curtis but did not hear back.