An Arizona gun manufacturer demonstrates the use of a rifle equipped with a "bump stock." Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral.com
Questions about the "bump stock" devices used in the Las Vegas shooting massacre on Oct. 1 start with what they actually do.
Did they help Stephen Paddock shoot more people? Did they stop him from killing more?
David Beaty, owner of Sun Devil Manufacturing in Mesa, Arizona, showed an Arizona Republic reporter and videographer what exactly the bump provides to the operator of a semi-automatic rifle.
His company makes aluminum rifle parts and accessories.
Semi-automatic vs. semi with 'bump stock'
Beaty demonstrated three weapons at an outdoor range in the southeast Valley, wearing earmuffs and protective goggles.
He first shot the semi-automatic rifle without activating the "bump." Standing next to him, I was jolted a little.
When he engaged the bump stock for the first time, my mind blanked and my body shook. Even after he stopped shooting, I was stunned for about 30 seconds.
The same feeling returned when Beaty fired a full-automatic machine gun.
'Bump stock' easy to learn
The bump stock replaces the original stock that comes with the weapon. Anyone can buy a bump stock because it's not considered a firearm.
Beatty said he has known people who can take the bump-stock attachment out of the box and know exactly how to use it, while others have to practice multiple times.
"It's pretty easy to learn; it just helps if you know the theory behind it," Beatty said.
He said his demonstration was the first time he's ever used a "bump stock" as it came straight out of the box.
It took no more than five minutes for him to teach himself.
"It's like turning your rifle into a dragster," he said. "It's addictive; there's something addictive about shooting machine guns."
The bump stock makes it easier to enjoy the feel of a machine gun, he said, and you don't have to pay the hefty tax toward being able to legally own a full-automatic gun.
Hitting a target is a lot easier with a full-automatic than a semi-automatic rifle with a bump stock, which is less accurate because of the jolt it gives off.
But a person is still able to hit a target, Beaty showed The Republic.
Automatic weapons costly, difficult to obtain
Beaty also demonstrated how a fully automatic gun works. The rapid fire was similar to the way a semi-automatic rifle with the bump stock worked, but the differences were notable.
Pulling the trigger on an automatic weapon will run the ammunition automatically. The shooter is still manually pulling a trigger with a bump stock, Beaty said.
Read more: Bump stocks sell out post Vegas tragedy
It requires a lot of paperwork to get a fully automatic weapon, Beatty said. A law-abiding person needs to submit fingerprint cards, photo IDs, undergo a background check and pay a $200 tax.
He said the weapon itself costs quite a bit because limited numbers are available. The only automatics available to the public are those that were in circulation before a 1986 ban. The cheapest gun would run about $5,000, he said.
"We can manufacture, but we can only transfer them to military and law-enforcement agencies," Beaty said.
Increased interest in the devices
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says President Donald Trump welcomes a review of U.S. policy on so-called bump stock devices that legally make semi-automatic rifles into faster-firing automatic weapons. (Oct. 5) AP
A bump stock isn't typically sought after by a hunter or for protection. Most people buying bump-stock devices are recreational users, according to Beaty.
"They are just going out to have fun," he said. "It just costs them a little more out of pocket because they are going to shoot ammo a lot faster."
Beaty owns about 10 himself, he said. He said he bought them directly from manufacturer Slide Fire when they were first introduced because it was a popular item. However, he hasn't sold any because there hadn't been a demand until now.
He posted an advertisement for a bump stock on Backpage.com, asking for $500, as an experiment. He said he was scared to check his email Friday because it didn't take more than five minutes after he posted the ad before someone asked him about it.
Beaty said he may sell a couple bump stocks but hadn't as of Friday. He said the typical price for one is between $250 and $350, so he wouldn't sell the device for his experimental price. The ad was just that, an attempt to gauge the interest of the market, he said.
The bump stock and Oct. 1
Beaty said if Paddock had known what he was doing, he could have inflicted aS much or more damage in Las Vegas with his semi-automatic rifle without the bump stock.
The bump stock isn't necessarily what contributed to the high number of people injured and killed, he said.
"It was the whole situation," Beaty said. "You pack that many people into a venue like that — for him, it was like shooting fish in a barrel."
Asked if the shooting was preventable, Beaty said that, given the circumstances, he doesn't believe it was.
Beaty said most people are responsible with their firearms. Many enjoy working on the weapons and learning how to use them better, he said.
"It's like a guy and his car," he said. "You got a guy who tinkers with his car, and he's always trying to do something new with it to make it better. It's just a different activity."
If a law is passed to outlaw bump stocks, the only people affected are law-abiding citizens, Beaty said, because criminals wouldn't abide by such a law.
Justin Burton, 29, Temecula, CA, was shot twice at the Vegas massacre, during two different volleys from the gunman, with the bullets entering his back inches apart and barely missing his spine. He speaks from a hospital bed. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
Visitors from Colorado, England and Missouri talk about the mood on the Las Vegas Strip after the Oct. 1, 2017, mass shooting. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
Michael Kordich, 34, a firefighter with the San Bernardino County Fire Department, performed CPR on a fellow concertgoer who had been shot, before being hit himself in the arm. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
Volunteers have come together to construct the Las Vegas Community Healing Garden as a result of the tragic mass shooting that happened Oct. 1, 2017. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
Nurses at University Medical Center describe treating hundreds of victims in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting that killed 59. Brett Kelman/The Desert Sun
A small memorial is growing on the Las Vegas Strip in remembrance of the 59 people who died in the Sunday massacre. Andrea Ybarra-Rojas and her daughter, Anya, 7, explain why they stopped by Tuesday evening, Oct. 3, 2017. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
Las Vegas Metro Police have released footage from the body cameras worn by officers responding to the scene of the shooting Oct. 2, 2017. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department
Emergency Medicine Doctor Daniel Inglish of Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas, talks Oct. 3, 2017, about working all night on victims of the Las Vegas shooting that were admitted to his hospital. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
Paul Ford, a retired police sergeant from the Manhattan Beach Police Department, stands in line Oct. 3, 2017, to give blood in Las Vegas in honor of his friend, Rachael Parker, who was killed at a concert there Oct. 1. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
Brian Kip was at the music festival and said he ran after hearing and seeing gunshots spraying across the crowd on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Video by Nick Oza/azcentral.com
Jon Dimaya, a Las Vegas nurse, triaged victims of the Las Vegas massacre as they were admitted to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center Sunday night, October 1, 2017, after a gunman opened fire on a country music festival. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
People attended a prayer vigil outside Las Vegas City Hall to honor the 59 people who died and more than 527 who were injured in the Las Vegas shooting on Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Nick Oza/azcentral.com
John Hammond, who lives in an apartment complex very close to the location of the massacre at Mandalay Bay, recounts hearing the shots and then opening his apartment complex to concert goers running in fear down his street. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
Joe Thomas and Elizabeth Reitz give an emotional interview about hearing the news of their friends who were barricaded inside Mandalay Bay when the Las Vegas shooting occurred Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017.
St. George gun shop owner Chris Michel said he sold a gun earlier this year to Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old Mesquite resident believed to have been the gunman in a mass shooting late Sunday that left more than 50 people dead. David DeMille/The Spectrum & Daily News
Arizona Republic reporter Yihyun Jeong is at Sunrise Medical Center in Las Vegas after the deadly mass shooting Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. The facility has treated 180 victims, 14 of which have died, and has administered 50 surgeries. Nick Oza/azcentral
Anthony Luca, 30, Las Vegas, NV, was attending the country music concert across the street from Mandalay Bay when gunshots rang out. He describes the chaos, running for cover and then helping a wounded man into an ambulance. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
A motion graphic explaining how the events unfolded when Stephen Paddock opened fire from his hotel room on concert goers at the Route 91 Harvest music festival near the Mandalay Bay resort and casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Ramon Padilla, Janet Loehrke George Petras, Jim Sergent USA TODAY
- Man shot at concert twice, both bullets barely missing his spine
- Mood on the Las Vegas Strip varies after mass shooting
- Las Vegas shooting victim shot while helping wounded man
- Healing garden springs up after Las Vegas shooting
- Nurses describe the chaos of tending to hundreds of wounded patients
- Memorial grows on the Strip for Las Vegas massacre victims
- Body-camera footage of shooting in Las Vegas
- Emergency-room doctor describes helping victims of Las Vegas shooting
- Las Vegas shooting: Former colleague gives blood in honor of friend killed at concert
- Victim recalls Las Vegas shooting
- Nurse helped Las Vegas wounded in hospital
- Pray vigil at Las Vegas City Hall
- Man heard shots, helped concert goers
- Joe Thomas and Elizabeth Reitz describe hearing of the Las Vegas shooting
- Las Vegas shooting: Dixie GunWorx
- Sunrise Medical Center treats 180 Las Vegas shooting victims
- Witness to Las Vegas shooting
- How the Las Vegas shooting unfolded