By: Ted Patterson

What are bump stocks?

Bump stocks are a firearms add-on that uses the natural recoil of a semi-automatic rifle to increase the rate of fire. That’s the point: the stock “bumps” your finger to pull the trigger again at a faster rate. The trade-off is that with a higher rate of fire comes a debilitating decrease in accuracy.

In this video, the Washington Post shows how a bump stock works:

Is it true that bump stocks increase the rate of fire? Absolutely. But they do not transform a semi-automatic weapon into a fully-automatic weapon, as an ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms) agent noted recently:

“The classification of these devices depends on whether they mechanically alter the function of the firearm to fire fully automatic…Bump-fire stocks, while simulating automatic fire, do not actually alter the firearm to fire automatically, making them legal under current federal law.”

Most shooters don’t want anything to do with bump stocks for accuracy reasons. By using the recoil to increase the rate of fire, it becomes difficult to shoot on target.

It wasn’t until after the Las Vegas shooting in October 2017, however, that bump stocks really became popular for purchase. Gun owners, rightly concerned about government action to ban anything and everything after tragedies, bought bump stocks in record numbers simply because they wanted to buy them before they were banned. A gun shop owner in Las Vegas recently told The Christian Science Monitor:

“All of the sudden we’re getting all these calls about these bump-fire stocks. It’s getting ridiculous – these people never even knew what a bump-fire stock was until they saw it on the news. It’s the new hype. All of the sudden, people are saying, ‘I got to get one of these before they’re not available anymore.’”

Almost every article you read on the subject of bump stocks references the Las Vegas concert shooting as the key case study on why bump stocks should be banned. The assailant in that massacre indeed had a number of guns in his arsenal with bump stocks. However, you can point to other shootings like the Parkland, Florida shooting where no bump stocks were used. Just because a certain gun was used for violence, or certain add-ons or modifications were made to a gun used, does not mean we should outright ban whatever weapons or accessories were used.

Banning bump stocks doesn’t affect most gun owners, and most of them don’t care about bump stocks, but the precedent such action sets, especially at the federal level, is significant. There is a bigger reason why bump stocks matter. Why do we need the federal government and state governments in the business of regulating, banning, and otherwise meddling with gun accessories? Isn’t it bad enough they are banning guns and magazines left and right?

That’s why many gun owners are determined to fight this – not so much for what banning bump stocks does, but for what it may lead to.

Knee-jerk reactions to violence are not new. People forget that some of the first major efforts to ban and restrict access to guns came after the Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1927, where Chicago gangsters got into a gunfight, and seven involved were killed by thugs using Thompson submachine guns. After this incident, the first iterations of background checks and huge taxes on automatic weapons were made law.

Fast-forward to 1986, when Congress banned automatic weapons altogether.

And yet, the worst shootings with the most carnage are happening today in an America without automatic weapons and with new gun restrictions going on the books in state after state.

Look no further than Baltimore (recently named “the nation’s most dangerous city”) and Chicago to see how gun control ends up “working.” It doesn’t.

Banning bump stocks does nothing to stop crazed killers. Politicians will pat themselves on the back, and they will tell grieving parents that "something was done." But in the end, more gun control will not stop the violence one bit, and it will not make people safer.

Ted Patterson is pro-freedom political activist and consultant writing from Maryland. Contact him at