Gun Expert: Las Vegas Shooter Likely Used Modified Weapons

October 02, 2017 10:37 PM

The man who stood in a 32nd floor hotel suite and fired on unsuspecting country music fans on Sunday night in Las Vegas had an arsenal of weapons. 

Officials said they recovered 23 guns from the room, some semi-automatic. The rapid-fire succession of the gunshots in two rounds gave John Monson insight into what guns the shooter, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, was using. 


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Monson, who has owned Bill's Gun Shop and Range since 2003, said the gunfire suggests a fully automatic gun.

"You're pulling the trigger and holding it back, and the gun continues to fire," Monson said. 

He said fully automatic guns are only used by members of the military or law enforcement. The U.S. government changed a law in 1986 disallowing the purchase of a new machine gun. But one could own and transfer a licensed and registered automatic gun if it was bought before 1986. 

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives requires a lengthy certification process. The agency lists nearly half a million registered machine guns across the country. 

Monson said it's possible the shooter may have legally acquired a pre-1986 machine gun. But he said it's more likely had modified an ordinary, modern day sports rifle called a Colt M4, otherwise known as an AR15, into a killing machine. 

As Monson heard the second round of gunfire on the video, he said, "There's some iteration in the shooting noise and the duration that would suggest to me it wasn't an internal change, it was an external device rapidly striking the trigger," he said. 

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Monson believed the shooter used two different guns for the two rounds of gunfire, and that he modified the guns. He said that for the gun used in the first round, the inside of the trigger group that holds springs and other gadgets may have been modified. 

"By modifying those, drilling out a portion to reset and not reset, that would allow the trigger to multiple-fire on a single pull," he said. 

Monson said the shooter may have added a Gatling cranking device to strike the trigger faster. He said the modifications are not usually sold in stores, but are available online. It's legal to buy them, but it's illegal to put them on an everyday rifle and turn it into a machine gun, Monson said. 


Farrah Fazal

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