NRA indicates increasingly progressive attitude in wake of Las Vegas tragedy

Americans are becoming accustomed to the cycle of vicious gun control debates following tragic shootings. 

The mass casualty incident in Las Vegas was no exception to this cycle; smart and practical gun regulations are once again a hot topic of discussion. 

The National Rifle Association, an advocate for gun rights, is deservedly part of these conversations. While it is beneficial that this event is causing individuals and organizations alike to rethink gun use in our nation, it should not take a tragedy to instigate change. 

Needless to say, the issues of the legality of bump stocks and extended magazines are at the forefront of discussion as they are arguably the two factors that contributed to the Las Vegas shooting. 

A bump stock is a weapon modification that replaces a rifle’s stock, which is the part held against the shoulder. The stock replacement allows the weapon to freely push back and forth due to the semi-automatic recoil when firing, allowing the weapon to fire continuously without having to constantly put pressure on the trigger to sustain fire, as explained by The New York Times

The Las Vegas shooter was in possession of several high-capacity magazines, having the capability of holding 100 rounds at a given time, according to The New York Times. For reference, a standard American infantry soldier would only hold 30 rounds in their respective rifle magazines.

Currently, there are no existing regulations on bump stocks or large magazines. The firearm laws that would have prevented the legality of these accessories eroded in 2004 due to the failure in renewing a bill that would criminalize them, Fox News reports. 

The ancient NRA proverbial “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun,” has not been discussed in recent conversations surrounding the Las Vegas shooting. 

The NRA should not use this tragedy to push for the expansion of more gun rights. If anything, this event should be used as a learning point in how to prevent future tragedies. 

The NRA’s interpretation of the second amendment is used to support government deregulation in gun control, and consequently, increase the already excessive gun rights.

The organization, however, took a common sense approach earlier this month when they released a joint statement the week of the massacre. 

The statement read: "... the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law” according to NBC.

The statement positively reacts to the Las Vegas shooting and goes on to call for additional regulations on any modification that would allow semi-automatic rifles to function at a near automatic rate, a critique of the bump stocks that were used to kill 58 people (the official number provided by BBC World News). 

Many found this call for action surprising, considering it is the same organization that is often referred to as “the gun lobby.” In fact, the NRA has spent $3.2 million on the first half of this year on lobbying, according to The Hill. It is clear, however, the stance they took after the Las Vegas shooting is nothing short of progressive. The NRA should be commended for acknowledging where reform is needed. 

That being said, more reforms must be enacted in terms of gun control. There needs to be restrictions on magazine sizes and silencers and the perception that gun laws are the equivalent of the erosion of civil liberties must be disproven. Laws such as expanding mandatory and thorough background checks should be set in place when buying and selling guns.

Despite the NRA’s surprising move toward a more progressive stance on semi-automatic rifles, there’s still more work to do. It should not take a tragedy like Las Vegas to remind those advocating for guns that we have a true problem in need of remedy.

The National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Va. Following the Las Vegas shooting, the NRA recently released a statement advocating for additional gun regulations. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

The National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Va. Following the Las Vegas shooting, the NRA recently released a statement advocating for additional gun regulations. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)