Senate Homeland Security chairman backs bump-stock ban after Las Vegas shootings

Senate Homeland Security chairman backs bump-stock ban after Las Vegas shootings
© Keren Carrion

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Panel pushes agencies on dropping Kaspersky software | NC county won't pay ransom to hackers | Lawmakers sound alarm over ISIS 'cyber caliphate' GOP chairman warns of ISIS's ‘cyber caliphate’ Overnight Finance: House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama | GOP leaders to consider Dec. 30 spending bill | Justices skeptical of ban on sports betting | Mulvaney won't fire official who sued him MORE (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, says he would likely support legislation to ban a special gun stock that essentially converts semi-automatic firearms into fully-automatic guns.

Johnson said he was not aware of so-called bump stocks until Monday, when the nation woke up to news of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history the night before in Las Vegas.

Johnson noted that it’s already illegal for citizens to purchase fully-automatic guns manufactured after 1986 or possess guns that have not gone through a costly and time-consuming registration process with the federal government. 

“The fact that fully-automatic weapons are already illegal and this makes another weapon capable [of automatic fire], I would be supportive of that,” Johnson said when asked Wednesday about legislation that would ban bump stocks.

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Blumenthal: ‘Credible case' of obstruction of justice can be made against Trump MORE (Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, is spearheading the bill and circulated a summary of her proposal at a lunch meeting with Democratic colleagues Tuesday.

Johnson said it’s a straightforward call “unless I’m missing something here, but I don’t think I am.”

“To me that’s already illegal,” he said of unregulated sales of machine guns. “So you shouldn’t have anything that facilitates that so easily.”

Other Republicans have voiced support for the proposal.

Rep. Bill FloresWilliam (Bill) Hose FloresGOP could punt funding fight to January Trump calls for welfare reform as he rallies GOP for tax vote Mark Kelly personally lobbied Rep. Steve Scalise on guns MORE (R-Texas), the former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, told The Hill on Wednesday that he would back a bump-stock ban.

A bump stock uses the recoil of a semi-automatic rifle to slide a gun back and forth so that it bumps rapidly against the trigger finger. That allows a person to shoot 400 to 600 rounds a minute with a single trigger squeeze.

Congress heavily regulated the sale and transfer of machine guns by passing the Firearm Owners' Protection Act of 1986, which made it illegal for civilians to possess machine guns manufactured after May of that year.