As It Happens

1 month after Vegas shooting, survivor decries inaction on bump stock regulation

After the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Republicans and Democrats both vowed to regulate bump stocks. A month later, the law remains unchanged.
Vegas shooting survivor Robert Gaafar speaks during a news conference with, from left to right, Democratic representative Dina Titus, Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez, and fellow survivors Maisie Devine and Jason Sherman outside the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 1 to mark one month since the attack. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Robert Gaafar says the streets of Las Vegas felt like "a war zone" on the night of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

"With the initial couple of shots, we thought they were fireworks," said Gaafar, who hid behind a vending machine as a gunman unleashed a hail of bullets from the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas hotel on Oct. 1, killing 59 people and injuring more than 500.

Police have attributed the scale of the bloodshed the shooter's use of bump stocks, devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire rapidly, mimicking automatic weapons. Twelve of them were found in the gunman's hotel room.

After the shooting, U.S. lawmakers from both sides of the aisle promised to regulate the devices, and even the National Rifle Association lobby group voiced its support for a review of bump stock regulations.

But more than a month later, only the the state of Massachusetts has approved a bump stock ban.

Every day that goes by that we don't do anything is another day that something like this could happen again.- Robert Gaafar, Vegas shooting survivor 

"It's been a month and nothing has been done," Gaafar told As It Happens host Carol Off.

"For me, it's a personal responsibility now that what I experienced should never happen again, and I just feel like every day that goes by that we don't do anything is another day that something like this could happen again."

He called efforts to shut down political talk after tragedies "a complete joke."

"We need to politicize these events. We need to do something. We need to do something now," he said.

A bump fire stock attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firing rate. (George Fret/Reuters)

On the heels of shooting, legislation was introduced in both the House and the Senate to ban the sale of bump stocks. Neither has been put to a vote. 

A group of senators and the NRA asked the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms to review its policy on bump stocks, but no action has been taken on that front either.

Most recently, a bipartisan group of House members unveiled legislation  on Tuesday that would require background checks, finger printing and registration fees for people purchasing bump stocks. 

But Gaafar isn't holding out a lot of hope that legislation will see the light of day either.

"Listen, we had 20 schoolchildren slaughtered a couple years ago at Sandy Hook and if anything was ever going to happen it was then, but the fact is nothing happened," Gaafar said.

"Politicians completely chickened out and they really showed their true colours in terms of just caring about collecting money from the gun lobbyists."


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