Sick, Sad World

It’s been said that if the 20 children who died at Sandy Hook didn’t move Republicans in Congress to pass a single gun control law, nothing could. The National Rifle Association and their gun-hugging constituents just won’t budge on the issue.

But that’s not quite true.

After a lone gunman killed 59 county music fans and wounded another 500 in Las Vegas, the NRA notably maintained radio silence on the latest float in a grotesque parade of American gun massacres. Until, to the surprise of all (perhaps none more than the organization itself),

The National Rifle Association on Thursday endorsed tighter restrictions on devices that allow a rifle to fire bullets as fast as a machine gun — a rare, if small, step for a group that for years has vehemently opposed any new gun controls.

Twelve of the rifles the Las Vegas gunman, Stephen Paddock, had in a high-rise hotel suite when he opened fire on a crowd on Sunday were outfitted with “bump stocks,” devices that allow a semiautomatic rifle to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, which may explain how he was able to shoot so quickly, killing 58 people and wounding hundreds of others. The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has ruled that bump stocks do not violate laws that tightly limit ownership of machine guns, and some lawmakers have called for them to be banned.

The bureau should revisit the issue and “immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law,” the N.R.A. said in a statement released Thursday. “The N.R.A. believes that devices designed to allow semiautomatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

So what’s the difference between Sandy Hook and Las Vegas? What makes dead kids an acceptable loss to Wayne LaPierre, but gunning down the country folk so shocking that at least the gesture of making marginal change has to be performed?

Children don’t buy guns.