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'Bump stocks' not for sale locally, becoming scarce online

Brent Brattlof, general manager of Bill’s Gun Shop & Range in north Fargo, demonstrates the ease of replacing a stock on an assault rifle Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor1 / 4
A "bump stock" device can be attached to a semi-automatic weapon, allowing it to function as an automatic. Special to The Forum2 / 4
A "bump stock" device is attached to the butt end of a semi-automatic weapon. Special to The Forum3 / 4
A wall of Bushmaster AR-15 223's is seen Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017, at Bill’s Gun Shop & Range in north Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor4 / 4

FARGO — As some members of Congress call for a ban on "bump stock" devices following the mass shooting in Las Vegas Sunday night, Oct. 1, gun enthusiasts will likely have a hard time finding them for sale locally.

The device essentially turns a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon by using the gun's recoil to fire multiple shots in rapid succession.

Among his cache of other weapons, shooter Stephen Paddock had 12 guns fitted with bump stocks in the hotel room from where he opened fire during a music festival on the Las Vegas strip, killing 58 people and injuring more than 500 others.

John Monson, who owns Bill's Gun Shop & Range in north Fargo and four other similar stores in Minnesota and Wisconsin, said he doesn't sell bump stocks, but the Las Vegas shooting brought a spike in interest.

"I've probably had more inquiries in the last three days than I have in the last three years," he said.

The Forum contacted several firearms retailers in Fargo including Scheel's, Fleet Farm and The Outdoorsman, with all of them indicating bump stocks are not for sale in their stores.

The devices have mostly been sold online, but that availability is rapidly changing.

The New York Times reported Thursday, Oct. 5 that Walmart and Cabela's have removed the product from their websites.

Manufacturers of the products are swamped.

Bump Fire Systems stated on its Facebook page that its website is down due to high traffic volume.

Another company, Slide Fire, posted a message on its website saying it was temporarily suspending new orders to concentrate on those already placed.

It asked potential customers to leave their email addresses "to be notified when more stocks are available."

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., introduced a bill Wednesday, Oct. 4, that would ban the manufacture, sale and possession of bump stock equipment or trigger cranks.

On Thursday, the National Rifle Association asked for a review of whether bump stocks comply with federal law after a growing number of Republican lawmakers said they would be open to restrictions on the devices.

"The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations," the group said in a statement on Thursday.

A concern for safety is why Monson doesn't allow bump stocks at his gun ranges. They're especially not suited for the novice or intermediate shooter, he said.

"People can't control them. They're bouncing all over the place," Monson said.

Greg Nellermoe of West Fargo is president of the F-M Practical Shooting Association, a competitive shooting club. While he said he doesn't know much about bump stocks, he doesn't think a ban will work.

"For those people who want to do evil things, it doesn't matter," Nellermoe said.

He said stricter gun laws only affect law-abiding citizens, an argument often used by gun enthusiasts faced with additional regulations.

Nellermoe said being aware and vigilant about one's surroundings is probably the best option.

"That would actually do more than throw laws and rules in there," he said.