Breaking with years of intransigence, the nation’s largest gun-rights group on Thursday announced a rare but limited concession to those who would put in place new limits on firearms.
On its own, the face-saving move is inconsequential. Yet it offers the question if, perhaps, the deadly rampage this week in Las Vegas may have been able to wrest loose inertia that paralyzed policymakers after similar carnage in Orlando; Newtown, Conn.; and Blacksburg, Virginia. Could something actually change this time?
The answer is yes, but not really.
The National Rifle Association endorsement of restrictions to add-ons that effectively turn semi-automatic weapons into functional automatic ones clears the way for Congress and the White House to pursue a crackdown without fear of retribution from the outside force. Lawmakers from both parties were already heading toward this outcome, which while symbolically potent has little impact on most of the almost daily mass shootings in the country. Even so, any blink from the NRA is remarkable for an organization that responded after 26 people were killed at a Connecticut elementary school with the claim “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
The tone was markedly different on Thursday. “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” the powerful lobbying group said in a statement.
In question are specific devices called “bump stocks.” The gadgets let guns fire bullets more quickly. The cost is twofold: less than $300 in cash and wildly inaccurate shots. Gun enthusiasts say the devices are novel, but do little to help true sportsman hit their target.
The concession comes just days after a gunman opened fire on a concert…