U.S.

Las Vegas Shooting Didn't Change Gun Laws in U.S., But It Did in This Country

11_15_BumpStocks_Guns_UnitedStatesMalta
Customer at the K&W Gunworks store in Delray Beach, Florida on the day that President Barack Obama announced executive action on guns, on January 5, 2016. The country of Malta has banned bump stocks in the wake of the Las Vegas gun massacre. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

While the United States has failed to take action, the country of Malta has passed gun laws in response to a shooting attack in the U.S. that killed 58 people and injured more than 500.

Malta amended its Arms Act this week to close loopholes that allowed for use of bump stocks—the device employed by the Las Vegas shooter to increase the number of shots he could fire. The new amendment bans "any non-essential component or accessory intended specifically to increase the rate of semi-automatic or other firearms, such as but not limited to, bump-stocks."

The move was overseen by the scenic archipelago's minister for home affairs and national security, Michael Farrugia. 

"In my opinion, bump stocks have no serious legitimate use," Farrugia told Newsweek. "Such items would pose a threat to public security and order, thereby also impinging on the sustainability of legitimate firearm related activities."

Malta’s Arms Act already bans automatic firearms and silencers, but it allows for semi-automatic weapons if the owner holds a license. In most cases, these rifles may be carried only for sporting activities in licensed shooting ranges, and must be kept unloaded and secure while being transported to and from those ranges.

In the U.S., politicians from both sides of the aisle came to a consensus, for the most part, that banning bump stocks was common-sense gun legislation after Stephen Paddock attacked a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas. Even the National Rifle Association, which almost always stands against any effort to restrict firearms, released a statement saying it “believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

Despite the consensus, gun regulation is stalled once again. A bipartisan House bill appeared to achieve momentum in the days following the mass shooting. The NRA, however, did a bit of an about-face, saying that it believed regulation on bump stocks should come from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms—an organization it once lobbied to eliminate—instead of Congress.

Countries like Malta don't face as many barriers to passing gun legislation. Its minister of home affairs and national security has the power to regulate arms after consulting with a weapons board he or she appoints. 

Malta recently passed another law the U.S. might want to draw from: Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced a new media law that protects journalists and their sources, as well as doing away with criminal libel. 

"Malta cooperates with the United States on several issues," Farrugia said. "Indeed there are several areas in which we can learn from each other's experiences/"

Malta's new gun regulations arrive in the wake of another mass shooting in the U.S. A gunman in California attacked a school on Tuesday, killing four people and wounding 10, including a child. Police killed the shooter, whose motive remains unknown. In January, the shooter was arrested for suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon.