Bipartisan lawmakers unveil bill to ban gun bump stocks

Bipartisan lawmakers unveil bill to ban gun bump stocks
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A bipartisan pair of lawmakers unveiled legislation on Tuesday to ban a device used by the suspected gunman in the Las Vegas massacre to make semi-automatic weapons fire shots more rapidly.

The bill, authored by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), would prohibit the manufacture, sale and use of the devices, known as “bump stocks,” or anything similar that is designed to increase the rate of fire but doesn’t convert a semi-automatic rifle into an automatic weapon.

“This common-sense legislation will ban devices that blatantly circumvent already existing law without restricting Second Amendment rights,” Curbelo, a centrist who is one of Democrats’ top targets in 2018, said in a statement.

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The legislation is the first gun control proposal offered by a Republican following the massacre in Las Vegas last week, which was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history with nearly 60 deaths and more than 500 wounded. 

Law enforcement authorities found that the Las Vegas shooter had 12 bump stocks attached to rifles in his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay resort. 

Democrats have been pushing for more comprehensive gun control, like expanding background checks for gun purchases. But Moulton, considered a rising star in the Democratic party, said that banning bump stocks would be a critical step forward.

“We can always be doing more, but this bill is a crucial starting point,” Moulton said. “Keeping this conversation going, passing this legislation and listening to the American people will allow us to help make America safer so that we do not need to live in fear of weapons of war being used against our families and friends.”

Yet it’s unclear whether GOP leaders in the House and Senate will want to move the bipartisan bill forward, despite growing support among Republicans for banning bump stocks. Some GOP lawmakers have asked the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Explosives to consider using regulatory routes to ensure that bump stocks and similar devices are banned.

Current law already bans the purchase of fully automatic weapons manufactured after 1986.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has given public support for additional regulations on bump stocks, but stopped short of endorsing any legislation for lawmakers to consider.

So far, only nine other Republicans have signed on to the Curbelo-Moulton bill: Reps. Peter King (N.Y.), Leonard Lance (N.J.), Patrick Meehan (Pa.), Ed Royce (Calif.), Chris Smith (N.J.), Erik Paulsen (Minn.), Ryan Costello (Pa.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) and Charlie Dent (Pa.).

The same number of Democrats have also co-sponsored the bill, because Curbelo and Moulton want their colleagues to endorse the measure "Noak's Ark style" with a member of the other party.

Most of the GOP lawmakers who co-sponsored the bill are centrists who are also expected to face tough reelections in 2018.

Reps. David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineHouse Dems call for 10-fold increase of Syrian refugees Dem urges DOJ probe into shooters’ gun purchases New caucus puts spotlight on UN peacekeeping MORE (D-R.I.) and Dina Titus (D-Nev.), who represents Las Vegas, introduced similar legislation last week to ban bump stocks. 

Curbelo and Moulton's bill would also call for a review of sentencing guidelines to enhance penalties against people who violate a bump stock ban in relation to violent crime or drug trafficking. Enhanced penalties could also apply to individuals who smuggle the devices illegally to or from the U.S. 
 
Violations of a bump stock ban under Curbelo and Moulton’s bill would result in up to five years in prison, fines or both.
 
The legislation authored by Cicilline and Titus, meanwhile, would punish bump stock ban violators with up to 10 years in prison.
 
Titus panned the Curbelo-Moulton bill as insufficient, even as she acknowledged it “almost mirrors” the measure she introduced with Cicilline.
 
“There is no reason to undermine our position at this point just to satisfy the NRA,” Titus said in a statement.
 
Titus noted that she is working with Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) on a separate proposal to “subject these kinds of dangerous devices to the strictest of regulation.”
 
Updated: 6:37 p.m.