Las Vegas shooting survivors alarmed at US Supreme Court’s strike down of ban on rifle bump stocks

Jun 14, 2024, 3:06 PM

Survivors of the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas and families who received somber calls from police hours later said they were alarmed when the U.S. Supreme Court Friday struck down a ban on the gun attachment used by the shooter who rattled off over 1,000 bullets into a crowd of thousands in 11 minutes.

The Trump-era ban on bump stocks, a rapid-fire accessory that allows a rate of fire comparable to that of machine guns, was nixed in a 6-3 majority opinion.

“I’m pro-gun, but I don’t believe anyone should have an automatic weapon in a civilized world. It’s a bomb waiting to go off,” said Craig Link, whose brother, Victor Link, was standing next to the “love of his life” when the first barrage of shots rang out, one striking him in the head.

“I never met anybody that didn’t like Victor. I met some people that didn’t like me,” Craig Link said, laughing before tearing up. He was supposed to be at the concert, a fact that has whirled in his head ever since.

“I can’t help but think over and over again, he and I might’ve been going to get a beer when that happened, or it might’ve been me instead of him,” he said.

Shawna Bartlett, 49, was in the front row when bullets began hailing down. Her friend was struck in the back. Amid ricocheting bullets and the screams of thousands of people, Bartlett helped load her friend into an ambulance, and she survived.

“Why does anyone need a bump stock? Why does it need to be legal? People don’t use them for hunting, or in law enforcement,” Bartlett said.

She said she struggled for years to deal with the trauma of the shooting, but things have felt much better in recent years and she makes a point of not taking life for granted.

“I’ve come really far in my healing process,” she said. “I can talk about it now without crying.”

The majority opinion written by Justice Clarence Thomas found the Justice Department had been wrong to declare that bump stocks transformed semiautomatic rifles into illegal machine guns because, he said, they don’t “alter the basic mechanics of firing.”

Justice Samuel Alito agreed, but he wrote a short opinion stressing that Congress can change the law.

Danette Meyers, who become a spokesperson for the family of Christiana Duarte, who was slain at the concert, said she worries that even if Congress does act, it will take time.

“It’s certainly going to give someone out there the opportunity to buy one of these things and just create another mass slaughter,” Meyers said.

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Las Vegas shooting survivors alarmed at US Supreme Court’s strike down of ban on rifle bump stocks