EL PASO, Texas - A group of Senate Democrats is rolling out a bill banning a device that allows semi-automatic rifles to mimic fully automatic weapons.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced she and other Democrats will introduce legislation to ban the devices, known as "bump stocks."
Twelve of the semi-automatic rifles recovered by authorities in the hotel room used by the Las Vegas shooter, Stephen Paddock, were equipped with bump stocks. Paddock opened fire during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas on Sunday, killing 59 people and injuring more than 500 others.
Experts say the device basically replaces the gun's stock and pistol grip and causes the gun to buck back and forth, repeatedly "bumping" the trigger against the shooter's finger. Technically, that means the finger is pulling the trigger for each round fired, keeping the weapon a legal semi-automatic.
The government gave bump stocks its seal of approval for sale in 2010 after concluding the devices did not violate federal law. Bump stocks are legal in Texas, but Richard Garcia, director of training at Sportsman's Elite in El Paso, said his store doesn't sell them and using one is poor technique.
"It's generally just misusing of a firearm and even then, it's not proper technique, proper control," Garcia said. "We don't teach any of that, anything close to that in classes, because that's all bad stuff."
Garcia said when you fire a gun, you experience recoil, which is the rifle moving backward as a reaction to the firing of a bullet, shell or other missile.
"What the gun fire stock allows people to do is pull the gun off their shoulder and hold the trigger down. As it's recoiling, that's what is re-setting the trigger," Garcia said.
Garcia told ABC-7 even if bump stocks were banned, that couldn't stop people from practicing a similar technique with household products.
"Your rubber bands, your belt loops," Garcia said. "If you were to have access to ammunition and a gun you could teach yourself how to do it."
Garcia said instead of working to ban gun products, the focus should be on mental health.
"I think we need to be talking about mental and patient confidentiality with doctors as opposed to banning pieces of plastic that are on a gun," Garcia said.
El Paso Democratic Party Chair Iliana Holguin said mental health and gun regulation needs to be looked at.
"Regulating these devices that cause massive, massive injury and death and also looking at ways we can prevent people with mental health issues from obtaining these types of devices," Holguin said.
When it comes to people illegally getting their hands on weapons, Holguin said, "The choices are do nothing because people will get their hands on it anyway, or at least try to regulate and make sure less people get their hands on this type of devices."
Aside from lawmakers pushing for legislation, since the shooting, Garcia said more customers have asked for weapons training. He said they're also asking more questions.
"Everybody wants to kind of know what's the deal with machine guns," Garcia said. "(They say) 'I'm looking at the stuff on the news and they say people have access to machine guns and I don't think it's right and I thought machine guns were illegal.'"
Garcia said the only machine guns that are illegal are ones made after 1986. He said depending on what type of weapon you buy, the background check may take up to a year.
While Garcia said more regulation is not the answer, Holguin disagrees.
"Now really is the time to have these discussions," she said. "Because if the time isn't now, when is the time?"
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