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Emails Disclose Angst, Handwringing at ATF After Vegas Shooting and Bump Stock Controversy

Acting head of ATF Thomas Brandon.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Emails show the controversial rapid-fire bump stock device used in the Las Vegas massacre last year caused a lot of angst and handwringing inside ATF, a report in USA Today shows. It also shows why the devices are still legal in many states.

Nick Penzenstadler of USA Today reports:

Within hours of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history a year ago in Las Vegas, the federal agency in charge of regulating guns found itself under pressure to ban a rapid-fire device and penned in by legal boundaries that officials said prevented them from acting quickly, according to newly disclosed emails from inside the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Blame rained down on the ATF after gunfire showered concertgoers from a 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay hotel Oct. 1, leaving 58 dead and more than 800 injured. Critics popped up everywhere – cable news anchors and politicians on both sides of the aisle, the National Rifle Association and Gabrielle Giffords’ anti-gun-violence group, and even from the ATF’s own ranks of current and former agents.

The focus was Slide Fire, a plastic add-on known as a “bump stock” that allowed Stephen Paddock to run through more than 1,100 rounds of ammunition in 10 minutes. Bump stocks were affixed to half of Paddock’s guns. Since 2010, up to 520,000 of the devices have been purchased in the USA, the Department of Justice reported.

Thomas Brandon, the acting head of ATF, writes in on email after the shooting to technology chief Earl Griffith:

“Are these ‘ATF approved’ as advertised?”

Griffith responds by saying they are.

Later, Brandon testified to Congress that in the interest of public safety, a law should ban them.


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