December 18, 2018 - The administration’s announcement that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) will issue a final regulation banning the production and distribution of bump stocks is good news and an important first step in addressing America’s gun violence epidemic. As horrifically exemplified in Las Vegas, the shooter used bump stocks to effectively automate his semi-automatic weapons to fire 1,1000 rounds of ammunition in 11 minutes, killing 58 people and injuring over 500 more.
Still, banning bump stocks is just a first step and one that Congress should have taken long ago. The sad fact is that American gun violence deaths continue to increase, with nearly 40,000 deaths in 2017. We need comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation to reverse this trend. Congress should enact universal background checks, red flag laws that allow temporary removal of firearms from those presenting a danger to others or themselves, close the “Charleston loophole” that allows firearms sales if a background check takes more than three days, and fully fund CDC gun violence research.
The need for universal background checks, which have broad bipartisan support, is particularly urgent. Current federal law only requires a background check when buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer. This means that felons, people in a mental health crisis, minors and domestic violence abusers can buy firearms at a gun show or online no questions asked.
North Carolina’s pistol purchase permitting system has closed the gun show loophole for handguns by requiring both a permit from the sheriff and a background check regardless where the handgun is being purchased. However, long guns, such as assault rifles, are not covered under the state’s permitting system. A federal universal background check could close the gun show loophole on long guns.
We need leaders in Raleigh to maintain our pistol purchase permitting system as well as our concealed carry weapons permitting system. And we need leaders in Washington to enact comprehensive reform. It is not that Americans are uniquely violent. It is that our gun laws are uniquely - and unacceptably - lax. That’s just common sense. Our leaders must work to enact meaningful law that help stop this carnage.