LAS VEGAS (AP) — The man who unleashed hundreds of rounds of gunfire on a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas had devices attached to 12 weapons that allow semiautomatic rifles to mimic fully automatic gunfire.
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent in Charge Jill Schneider also told reporters Tuesday that Stephen Paddock had nearly 50 guns in three locations, a combination of rifles, shotguns and pistols.
LAS VEGAS MASSACRE: Continuing Coverage
The gun attachment used by Paddock that enables automatic gunfire is a device called a “bump stock” that is not widely sold. The stocks have been around for less than a decade, and Schneider said officials determined they were legal.
At an evening news conference to update the investigation, Las Vegas Police Undersheriff Kevin McMahill said Paddock put a camera inside the peephole of his Mandalay Bay hotel room to see down the hallway as he opened fire on concertgoers at a Jason Aldean show.
McMahill also said Paddock also set up two cameras in the hallway outside his room so he could watch law enforcement or security approach.
He says Paddock fired on and off for nine to 11 minutes and unleashed a dozen or so volleys. He says the first call about shots fired came in at 10:08 p.m. Sunday and the gunfire stopped at 10:19 p.m.
The bump stock modifications have attracted scrutiny from authorities and lawmakers in recent years.
“Individuals are able to purchase bump fire stocks for less than $200 and easily convert a semi-automatic weapon into a firearm that can shoot between 400 and 800 rounds per minute and inflict absolute carnage,” said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has long expressed concern over the availability of such accessories and called for a ban on their sale.
A semi-automatic weapon requires one trigger pull for each round fired. With a fully automatic firearm, one trigger pull can unleash continuous rounds until the magazine is empty. The bump-stock devices works by manipulating the trigger mechanism extremely rapidly, far faster than a person could do so without them.
Authorities say Paddock opened fire from the windows of his 32nd floor hotel room late Sunday, killing 59 people and wounding hundreds more at a country music festival. Police stormed his room and found he had killed himself after committing the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
The purchasing of fully automatic weapons has been significantly restricted in the U.S. since the 1930s.
In 1986, the federal National Firearms Act was amended further to prohibit the transfer or possession of machine guns by civilians, with an exception for those previously manufactured and registered.
Numerous attempts to design retrofits failed until recent years when bump stocks came on the market.
The device basically replaces the gun’s shoulder rest, with a “support step” that covers the trigger opening. By holding the pistol grip with one hand and pushing forward on the barrel with the other, the shooter’s finger comes in contact with the trigger. The recoil causes the gun to buck back and forth, “bumping” the trigger.
Technically, that means the finger is pulling the trigger for each round fired, keeping the weapon a legal semi-automatic.
And they continue to sell. Ed Turner, a former police officer who owns a gun shop in Stockbridge, Georgia, said he’s seeing a run on bump stocks since the shooting. While he would be surprised if he had sold two of them in the past decade, he is now unable to find any available, even from wholesalers.
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