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Automatic weapons require deep pockets and a clean record, but are not illegal

FILE – In this Feb. 1, 2013, file photo, an employee of North Raleigh Guns demonstrates how a “bump” stock works at the Raleigh, N.C., shop. The gunman who unleashed hundreds of rounds of gunfire on a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, attached what is called a “bump-stock” to two of his weapons, in effect converting semiautomatic firearms into fully automatic ones. (AP Photo/Allen Breed, File)

Following the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, police have yet to identify the weapon that attacker, Stephen Paddock, used. But from the sounds of the videos during the attack, experts suspect that the gun used was a fully automatic weapon. Automatic weapons are hard to obtain, but not impossible if you have deep pockets and a clean record.

Nevada has one of the most-relaxed carry requirements in the nation. In Nevada, you do not need a permit to purchase a firearm or register the gun with the state. Those who wish to purchase a firearm in the open carry state do not need to license the gun in their name.

(Screenshot from NRA, on Nevada gun laws)

And while it is legal to possess an automatic weapon in Nevada, it is extremely costly. The carrier must go through extensive federal procedures and the average machine gun starts at around $25,000.

Throughout history, these assault-style weapons have gradually seen more and more restrictions by the federal government.

The National Firearms Act of 1934 placed heavy regulations on fully automatic weapons in the United States. An automatic firearm is a gun that continuously fires bullets for as long as there is ammunition loaded in the gun and the trigger is held. The 1934 Act made those who wished to purchase an automatic weapon submit a firearm application with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The application requires a rigorous federal background check. The purchaser must also register the gun to their name, and pay a $200 tax.

It is also illegal to own an automatic weapon made after, May 1, 1986. Under President Ronald Reagan, obtaining an automatic weapon became much more challenging. The Hughes Amendment passed in 1986 prohibits the commercial manufacturing of machine guns. In result of the legislation, there is a very limited supply of these firearms available that people can legally obtain. It’s estimated that there are about 176,000 ‘pre-Hughes Amendment’ registered machine guns left in the United States.

Police have confirmed that Paddock had 23 guns in his room, thousands of bullets, and explosives on the 32nd floor of the Mandala Bay Hotel when he shot at a crowd of concertgoers killing 59 people and injuring more than 500. Additionally, the police found 19 guns in his Mesquite, Nevada home.

Law enforcement has not revealed the types of firearms the shooter had and if they were obtained legally. However, two gun shops have confirmed selling firearms to the shooter in the past year. They also claimed that the gunman passed all of the required federal background checks to purchase the weapons.

If the gunman did, in fact, spend thousands on the automatic weapon and pass the federal background checks and strict registration process, no law would have prevented him from owning an automatic weapon.

Immediately following the mass murder, Republican and Democrat politicians had two very different messages. President Trump addressed the nation calling for unity and prayers for the victims, while many Democrats politicized the deadly attack calling on Congress for strict gun control legislation.

Hillary Clinton called out the GOP and the National Rifle Association for supporting legislation that makes suppressors or silencers easier to obtain. She said that the crowd wouldn’t have been able to hear the gunshots to know to flee from the attack. Experts debunked the theory. Suppressors while they do diminish the sound it’s more so for the benefit of the shooters ear and only lessens it by a few decimals. Had the gunman used a suppressor on the automatic weapon the silencer would have only work for a period. Based on the length and consecutive rounds shot off by the gunman, the suppressor would begin to melt.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded swiftly in an emotional press conference.

“There’s a time and place for a political debate, but now is the time to unite as a country,” Sanders said. “There is currently an open and ongoing law enforcement investigation. A motive is yet to be determined, and it would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all the facts or what took place last night.”

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