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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Guest: A Quiet Problem: Regulate bump stocks, not suppressors

JEREMY DANG / AGGIE

Democrats should turn their attention away from the SHARE Act

In the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, we hear shouts and murmurs from both sides of the aisle. From the left: “We need gun regulations!” From the right: “This is not the time to talk about gun laws.” Amid all these cries, one issue in particular rose to the surface: the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act.

The SHARE Act does many things — chief among them, deregulating the use of suppressors, or “silencers.” Suppressors are legal to own in most of the 50 states, including Nevada. To buy one, a person must pay a special tax, fill out some official paperwork and submit fingerprints. The SHARE Act would eliminate many of these checkpoints needed to own a suppressor, making them “equal” with owning a gun. Democrats and interest groups across the country have turned their attention to this bill, urging the public to contact their local representatives to urge them to vote no.

This is the wrong solution.

A suppressor is “any device for silencing, muffling, or diminishing the report of a portable firearm.” Had Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas gunman, owned a suppressor, the argument against suppressors goes, it would have made it more difficult for citizens and law enforcement to detect from where the gunfire was coming. While this is absolutely true, it’s irrelevant when you consider that Paddock obtained all of his guns and ammunition legally, and if he were so inclined, he could have purchased a suppressor as well. The same argument could be said of any mass shooting in recent history, indicating that suppressors are not the problem.

Specific provisions in the SHARE Act note that the purpose of deregulating suppressors is to protect the hearing of sportsmen, but suppressors are also helpful tools for home-defense weapons for the same reason. Imagine a scenario in which an armed burglar enters your home and you fire a shot. Unless you were so thoughtful as to put in earplugs first, you would no longer be able to hear where the perpetrator is coming from. Further, suppressors often aid accuracy by reducing the recoil of the gun. No, we don’t want this added bonus given to the likes of Stephen Paddock. But in the hands of law-abiding citizens, increased accuracy makes guns safer.

This begs the question then: If the SHARE Act isn’t the way to go, what can we do? The answer is to turn to “bump stocks.” Bump stocks are devices that can turn a gun into a rapid-fire weapon, shooting bullets at a rate comparable to a machine gun, and a device that Paddock took advantage of in Vegas. The National Rifle Association said in a recent statement that the federal bureau should revisit the issue posed by bump stocks and “immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.”

“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” the NRA said. One important thing to note in this statement is that the group is calling for regulations, not a ban. This is where Democrats need to push.

Famously, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been blocked from conducting research that so much as peeks into gun violence. Republicans have, quite literally, stuck to their guns and stated over and over that gun violence cannot be regulated, that you “can’t regulate evil.” This has lead to Democrats pushing through every type of gun regulation politically feasible, regardless of whether or not such regulations actually make guns safer. This trend needs to end. Voting no on the SHARE Act is snatching the low-hanging fruit on the tree that is gun control and only plays into NRA rhetoric about regulation-happy Democrats. The NRA has already bent on the issue on bump stocks, so Democrats should turn their attention there as well to go for something both politically feasible and worthwhile. Michelle Obama said “When they go low, we go high” — and focusing on the correct issues despite party politics is exactly how we can do that.

 

Written by: Raelyn Torngren

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.

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