A few GOP lawmakers in the House and Senate have announced they are open to legislation that will ban bump stocks, a device allegedly used by Stephen Paddock in the Las Vegas massacre.

This device “is a sliding stock that when pressed against a shooter’s shoulder allows a semi-automatic gun to shift backward and forward with the recoil of each shot fired.” Authorities found bump stocks in Paddock’s room, but we do not know for sure if he used them during the massacre.

Bump Stocks Legalized Under Obama

Obama’s ATF approved the bump stock in 2010. From LawNewz:

The company Slide Fire patented a shoulder version of the bump stock and sent the device to Obama’s ATF for regulatory evaluation in early 2010. The ATF approved Slide Fire’s device in June of that year. In a letter explaining their decision, the ATF wrote:

The stock has no automatically functioning mechanical parts or springs and performs no automatic mechanical function when installed. In order to use the device, the shooter must apply constant forward pressure with the non-shooting hands and constant rearward pressure with the shooting hand. Accordingly, we find that the ‘bump stock’ is a firearm part and is not regulated as a firearm under the Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act.

Rick Vasquez signed off on the decision. He told The Washington Post that the ATF “followed the law, and everything was evaluated fairly and honestly with the regulations.”

The House

But Congress doesn’t want to give off the impression they’re not doing anything so Democrats have spoken out against bump stocks and at least one GOP lawmaker agrees with them. From The Hill:

Rep. Bill Flores (Texas), a former Republican Study Committee chairman, was the first Republican in Congress to publicly endorse a ban on bump stocks.

“I think they should be banned. There’s no reason for a typical gun owner to own anything that converts a semi-automatic to something that behaves like an automatic,” Flores, a gun owner, told The Hill in an interview just off the House floor.

“Based on the videos I heard and saw, and now that I’ve studied up on what a bump stock is — I didn’t know there was such a thing — there’s no reason for it,” he said.

“I have no problem from banning myself from owning it.”

Unsurprisingly, a lot of these lawmakers have not heard of stock bumps until this massacre. This includes House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who said during an appearance on MSNBC that these devices are “something we need to look into.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) agreed with Ryan that lawmakers need “to look into” bump stocks.

Moderate Republicans like Charlie Dent (PA), Leonard Lance (NJ), Ryan Costello (PA), and Pete King (NY) have joined Flores with the banning language. The Hill continued:

“I’m ready to say that they should not be in public use. I think they are a problem. I support a ban on bump stocks. I don’t see any purpose for them,” Dent told The Hill.

“The law is clear to me that automatic weapons are banned in this country, as they should be,” he added.

Costello said, “Purchasing bump stocks off the shelf, enabling a semi-automatic firearm to replicate an automatic one, is a loophole that needs to be closed.”

Lance, who represents a district that Hillary Clinton won last year, stated, “Bump stocks should be banned. Fully-automatic weapons are already illegal in this country so any mechanism that essentially converts semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic weapons should also be illegal.”

Look at this from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in The Washington Post:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) urged Ryan to allow a vote on a Democratic bill to ban the devices. When asked whether the bill might be a slippery slope toward other gun restrictions, Pelosi said, “So what? . . . I certainly hope so.”

The Senate

Gun control enthusiast Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has already to plan legislation to ban the device and showed it to her Democrat colleagues on Tuesday. They unveiled it on Wednesday. From Politico:

“Bump stocks — which cost less than $200 — increase a semi-automatic rifle’s rate of fire from between 45 to 60 rounds per minute to between 400 to 800 rounds per minute. That’s the same rate of fire as automatic weapons,” Feinstein, a longtime gun-control advocate, told reporters. “The only reason to modify a gun is to kill as many people as possible in as short as time as possible.”

No GOP senators have specifically said they will ban the bump stocks, but said they would like to explore the option. From The New York Times:

“I own a lot of guns, and as a hunter and sportsman, I think that’s our right as Americans, but I don’t understand the use of this bump stock,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said, adding, “It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on.”

Mr. Cornyn said the continuing legality of the conversion kits was “a legitimate question,” and told reporters he had asked Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Judiciary Committee chairman, to convene a hearing on that issue and any others that arise out of the Las Vegas investigation.

Other Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida, said they would be open to considering legislation on bump stocks.

“We certainly want to learn more details on what occurred in Las Vegas,” Mr. Rubio said, “and if there are vulnerabilities in federal law that we should be addressing to prevent such attacks in the future, we would always be open to that.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chairman for the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said that if research shows Congress that bump stocks indeed make a rifle more like an automatic weapon then he would vote to ban them.


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