The investigation of the recent shooting in Las Vegas has turned up an interesting, horrible detail. The shooter utilized special gun stocks modified to induce a phenomenon known as "bump fire". As someone who knows a decent amount about guns, I'd like to take a chance to clarify what, exactly, this means to those who have no idea.
Bump fire occurs when the recoil of firing a semi-automatic gun causes the trigger to be pulled a second time, from the force of the recoil. It is often the result of poor firing stance and discipline. In these cases, a bump firing gun is difficult to control and has poor accuracy from unplanned fire and aforesaid bad discipline. Bump firing can cause a weapon to empty its entire magazine very rapidly, a sort of makeshift "fully automatic" function.
While I had been aware that there are specially modified stocks that induce bump firing on purpose, I did not realize they were so common. I definitely didn't expect them to be so commonly legal in the United States. But my issues with US gun regulations are a subject for another article.
Bump firing is dangerous for a couple of reasons. Primarily, it is dangerous because it is typically the result of a poorly controlled weapon. Second, poor handling of a weapon can cause it to malfunction.
Traditionally, there is a basic principle of physics that defines the mechanics of a semi-automatic weapon. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is why recoil exists. When you fire a semi-automatic rifle, the expanding gases from the round cause the bullet to be forced out of the barrel, and usually, a tube connected to part of the barrel will cycle part of those gases back into the weapon to cycle the bolt, chambering a new round. The rest of the forces from firing are channeled backwards, into the shooter. But the handle of a handgun or stock of a rifle causes this force to be distributed evenly, rather than into a single dense projectile.
Small arms design assumes that someone is going to be holding the gun properly. If the force of firing a round is improperly distributed, the slide may not fully cycle, or the bolt on a rifle may not fully cycle. Sometimes, this just results in a jam. But sometimes, it causes slam-firing.
Slam-firing is when one of the components that fires a weapon does not fully cycle, causing it to fire the weapon again *without* the trigger being pulled. A common example of this is in old models of the Russian SKS, where the firing pin sometimes did not lock properly during the bolt's cycle, meaning it immediately struck the primer of the next round as it was being chambered.
I shouldn't have to tell anyone, gun savvy or not, how bad it is for a gun to fire a round without that round being seated properly in the gun. It can cause an explosion in the barrel that destroys the weapon and the shooter's hand. It can cause the other rounds in the magazine to "cook off", firing them all at once and destroying the shooter's hand. Most of the other possibilities here also result in someone's piano-playing days coming to a premature end.
I don't really have a conclusion for this article, so I'll just dispense some firearms advice. The primary problem with guns in this country has nothing to do with legislation. It has to do with poor discipline and a culture of disrespect.
The modern firearm is a fascinating, technically ingenious work of art, the result of over a hundred years of incredibly clever people being incredibly clever. When you mishandle or misuse a firearm, you are disrespecting those inventors, you are disrespecting how clever they were. You are disrespecting a work of art.
Furthermore, the second amendment of the US constitution has an oft overlooked stipulation. It's the first part of the amendment, even.
"A well regulated Militia"
Now, I don't claim to be an expert in everything, but I'm pretty sure "A well regulated Militia" is not synonymous with "A stupid bastard waving a Glock around and pretending he's cool."
It's not cool, it's dangerous, disrespectful, and contrary to the true meaning of the right to bear arms.