The devices are sold out or temporarily unavailable from all the largest gun and ammunition retailers as Congress considers banning the rifle modification
Bump stocks are selling out across America as momentum gathers in Congress to ban the rifle modification used by the Las Vegas shooter to obtain catastrophically high rates of fire.
The devices are sold out or temporarily unavailable from all the largest gun and ammunition retailers in the US, as fear of an impending ban has sent many gun enthusiasts hoarding.
“Will I be able to order sometime soon? I want to get one before there is a push to make them illegal,” one commenter posted on the Facebook page of Bump Fire Systems, one of three major US manufacturers of the devices. The company’s website had been down for more than two days citing “high traffic volume”.
“I ordered mines [sic] the night the mass shootings happened. I hope I still get it,” another wrote.
“I don’t even have the gun for it, but I want the stock just to have it down the line,” said Pennsylvania gun owner Zack Cernok, according to the New York Times. “I just like the idea of them and want to see how it feels and if it’s worth it – for $100, it’s almost not a bad investment to buy it, try it out and sell it if I don’t like it.”
Major online sporting good retailers like Cabelas, Cheaper Than Dirt and Walmart were all sold out of the devices as of Thursday morning. Slide Fire, the first and largest manufacturer of the devices reported on its website that it had “decided to temporarily suspend taking new orders”.
The increase in sales mirrors that of guns as a whole after recent mass shootings, as gun enthusiasts respond to usually unfounded fears of imminent gun control legislation by stocking up on their arsenals.
Fully automatic firearms, which fire continuously as long as a gun’s trigger remains pressed, are, in virtually all cases, illegal to purchase and own in the US. Semi-automatic weapons, where a shooter must pull the trigger for each successive shot, however are abundant in both handgun and rifle forms.
The bump stock devices blur this distinction by using the weapon’s own kickback to “bounce” the gun back and forth against the shooter’s shoulder, while stabilizing their finger against the trigger to achieve multiple trigger pulls in rapid succession.
“The Slide Fire simply allows you to shoot as fast as you want to,” said inventor Jeremiah Cottle, while promoting his device in 2011.
This action allows bump stocks to replicate the speed of a fully automatic rifle, but because the motion involves essentially shaking the whole firearm they dramatically reduce accuracy. Until now, this has limited their popularity with gun enthusiasts who commonly regard the device as a novelty or a toy.
“Complete waste of costly ammunition,” one reviewer said in a post from 2015. “You wouldn’t want to use one in a real self-defense or battle situation. If I want to hear a whole lot of rapid fire bangs, I’ll set off a string of firecrackers.”
The NRA, which as a matter of principle objects to virtually any law restricting the ownership of firearms or their accessories, does not allow the bump stock devices to be used at their own firing range, Politico reported Thursday.
Stephen Paddock used the devices to devastating effect in his massacre on Sunday night, killing 58 people from his hotel suite window in the Nevada gambling capital.
Senior congressional Republicans have suggested they are open to considering legislation banning the devices, despite their usual hard line against any gun control measures.
“I own a lot of guns, and as a hunter and sportsman, I think that’s our right as Americans, but I don’t understand the use of this bump stock,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the number two Republican in the Senate, said on Wednesday.
ON Thursday morning on MSNBC the House speaker, Paul Ryan, added: “Clearly that’s something we need to look into.”
But for now, it remains legal and hard to obtain – creating a scarcity that is driving up the price in secondhand channels. The devices are currently selling for around 200% of retail on the private auction site GunBroker.com.