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 JohnsonDemocratic Homeland Security members request additional DHS nominee testimony Key differences between the Senate and House tax plans Senate panel delays vote on Trump’s Homeland Security pick 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 FeinsteinSenators push mandatory sexual harassment training for members, staff Bipartisan group of lawmakers aim to reform US sugar program Senate panel to hold hearing on bump stocks 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 FloresMark Kelly personally lobbied Rep. Steve Scalise on guns NRA gives ground on bump stocks Momentum builds for bump stock ban 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.