NRA’s request for review of bump stocks may signal start to ‘common ground’ conversation
SEATTLE — The National Rifle Association is calling for a review of bump stocks – devices that effectively turn semi-automatic guns into fully automatic weapons — following the Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 people.
NRA President Wayne LaPierre said in a statement Thursday “that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”
Members of Congress like Dianne Fienstein have long railed against the devices.
Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock had 23 guns in his hotel room, many equipped with bump stocks.
The NRA’s call to re-examine the regulations begs the questions: Is the U.S. moving to find common ground on gun control and regulation? If bump stocks are examined, are more restrictions possible?
Q13 News talked to a handful of gun experts and enthusiasts, asking whether or not it’s possible to find common ground on firearm regulation.
Here are some of their responses:
Monica Cowles -- Firearm Educator at Northwest Safety School
Cowles is a firearms instructor in Seattle. She teaches multiple classes, including the NRA's "Refuse to be a Victim" class. She's says it's hard to find common ground when it comes to any sort of gun reform because emotions too often get in the way.
"We need to find a way to stay calm and speak to one another," Cowles said. "Our society is infected with emotionalism. It leads to an imbalance."
She says people who come to her classes can sometimes have misconceptions about guns. She says she understands the desire to talk about gun control after shootings like Las Vegas, but people need to look at the facts.
"Emotions are always hyped up," she said.
The media often sensationalize gun violence, Cowles said, and provoke emotional responses.
"The vast majority of the media does not seem to be supportive of 2nd Amendment ideas," she said.
In the end, she questions if things like magazine capacity limits and increased restrictions on the number of guns people could buy would have any impact on mass shootings. And wouldn't some restrictions put law-abiding citizens in danger?
"Guns are not evil," she said. "Evil people aren't new."
Joe Korbuszewski - Gun enthusiast and writer who calls for gun reform
Korbuszewski is a long-time gun owner who lives in Tacoma. He's a hobbyist, he says, who owns multiple guns and often goes shooting at ranges. Korbuszewski calls for gun reform, and says many fellow gun owners want it, too.
But if it hasn't happened yet, and he's not sure it ever will.
Korbuszewski, who has children, says he started to believe strongly in gun control after the Sandy Hook Massacre. He was sure some restrictions on guns would come about after 20 children ages 6 and 7 were killed.
"The day that it happened, I told myself, 'oh this is it,'" he said. "I was sure something would be done. Nothing happened. Absolutely nothing happened. I started thinking of things differently."
Korbuszewski would like to see fully funded background checks, a ban on bump stocks, more studies on gun deaths by the CDC, and a possible restriction on magazine capacity. He says many of his fellow gun owners want these changes, too.
Many gun owners may agree with restrictions, he says, but refuse to acknowledge it publicly.
He also says the vitriol on the Internet is completely outlandish compared to what can be agreed upon in person.
People are always the extreme on the Internet. Perhaps the first step to agreeing on any sort of gun legislation is meeting face-to-face.
"On the Internet it's easy to type whatever you want," he says. "When you're sitting in front of someone, we talk differently."
Korbuszewski strongly supports extensive studies on gun regulations. Once everyone can agree on facts, he suggests, perhaps it will be easier to solve the problem.
Renee Hopkins -- CEO, Alliance for Gun Responsibility
Hopkins is the CEO of the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a Washington group working to "promote a culture of gun ownership that balances rights with responsibilities." Hopkins says that legislation the Alliance has helped pass is the common ground on gun legislation.
In 2014, the group helped pass Initiative 594, mandating background checks on all gun sales. They also helped pass Initiative 1491, extreme risk protection orders. She says these are policies supported by a majority of people in Washington, both gun owners and non gun owners.
"We represent the common ground," she said. "A majority of Washingtonians are in favor of the legislation we've helped pass."
She says the Alliance has worked with people on both sides of the aisle, creating a broad base for the coalition. She says though a majority of Washingtonians support some sort of gun control legislation, a vocal minority in the gun lobby oppose it.
"While people assume the gun lobby represents their members, they don't," she said.
She says Washington is more progressive nationally in terms of gun legislation. But, if you look at some national polls, Hopkins said, common ground is there.
"The same policies we support are wildly popular throughout the country."