Stephen Paddock, the man responsible for the mass shooting in Las Vegas, used legal bump stocks to make his semi-automatic weapon perform like a fully automatic weapon.
Police say bump stocks can be used to make firearms fire hundreds of rounds at rapid succession.
Fully automatic weapons are regulated under federal law, but bump stocks are relatively easy to get a hold of.
Converting a semiautomatic to fully automatic is very, very easy,” John Sullivan, Defense Distributed’s lead engineer, told Wired.
A bump stock, according to the New York Times, allows the rifle to move back and forth, and uses the recoil energy of each shot. The weapon bounces between the shoulder and the finger, so the shooter does not even move the trigger finger.
“Automatic weapons are illegal, but individuals are still able to purchase bump stocks to allow semi-automatic weapons to fire up to 800 rounds per minute – the rate of automatic weapons – and inflict maximum carnage,” tweeted Senator Dianne Feinstein.
When Paddock smashed open his hotel window and opened fire onto a crowd of 22,000 people, the rapid firing of his bullets made witnesses believe he was using a fully automatic weapon.
Jill Snyder, special agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, told reporters that 12 of the weapons found in Paddock’s hotel room had bump stock devices. She did not say which firearms were used in the shooting.
Synder said that because bump stocks only simulate automatic fire and do not alter the firearm, they are legal under current laws.
Gun Owners of America executive director Erich Pratt defended the use of bump stocks, stating that gun advocates use them for entertainment.
“Ultimately, when Congress… looks at this, they’ll start asking questions about why anybody needs this, and I think the answer is we have a Bill of Rights and not a Bill of Needs,” Pratt told the Associated Press.