Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court ruled on June 14 to reverse the federal ban on “bump stocks,” a gun accessory that amplifies the speed with which one can fire a semiautomatic weapon. Bump stocks were originally banned with the Trump administration’s pleas following the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas country music festival. With 58 fatalities and more than 500 wounded, it was the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history.

Among the hundreds of wounded were Santa Barbara residents Brian Mack and his wife, Lara Mack. Both were enjoying the Route 91 Harvest Festival when they were caught in the storm of bullets raining down from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Brian, an anesthesiologist at Cottage Health, had to undergo surgery for a gunshot wound to the abdomen. A bullet also scathed Lara’s head, creating a large surface-level wound that required its own medical attention.

The shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, ended his own life before police were able to get to him. Investigators found 23 guns in the room Paddock was shooting from; at least 12 of them were equipped with a bump stock. 

Bump stocks can be attached to the back of semiautomatic weapons where they rest near one’s shoulder, with a portion of the attachment covering the trigger. When the trigger is pulled, the bump stock harnesses energy from the recoil to “bump” the gun back forward into the trigger finger, causing the gun to fire again, and so on. By altering a semiautomatic weapon with a bump stock, the user doesn’t have to manually pull the trigger with every shot, causing it to fire at a much faster rate — a rate that mirrors that of fully automatic machine guns, which have been banned in the U.S. since 1986.

Fully automatic weapons fire at a rate starting at 600 rounds per minute. One of the semiautomatic guns used in the Las Vegas shooting — with a bump stock — fired at 540 rounds per minute according to The New York Times, as opposed to the standard 60-100 for an unaltered version of the same weapon.

Despite the Supreme Court ruling, owning bump stocks is still prohibited in California. However, there are fears about people buying the attachments in other states (for about $100), and bringing them back to California — sometimes for use in a controlled environment for fun, and other times creating a heartbreaking loss of life.

The Macks live with similar fears. “There’s literally no rational reason for the existence of these things,” Brian wrote on his public Facebook account the day the court decision was announced. “I am generally a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but having personally been the victim of one of these idiotic contraptions, I’m pretty pissed off.”

Despite the Trump administration pushing for the initial bump stock ban in 2017, former President Trump has been fairly nonchalant about this ruling. He did not bring it up during a speech on the same day as the ruling, and instead highlighted the overall importance of the Second Amendment.

President Biden issued a statement urging Congress to re-ban bump stocks, saying “Send me a bill and I will sign it immediately.”

This article was underwritten in part by the Mickey Flacks Journalism Fund for Social Justice, a proud, innovative supporter of local news. To make a contribution go to

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