Momentum builds for bump stock ban
More Republicans on Thursday said they backed a ban on the special accessories used by a gunman in Las Vegas to allow many of his semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (Fla.), a Republican considered vulnerable in the upcoming election, is teaming up with Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) on bipartisan legislation that would outlaw the devices, known as “bump stocks.” Other House and Senate Democrats already have introduced similar bills.
Two of Curbelo’s Florida GOP colleagues, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Vern Buchanan, said Thursday morning they would support the ban. Reps. Tom Cole (Okla.), Kevin Yoder (Kan.) and Lynn Jenkins (Kan.), three red-state Republicans, also said they back the ban.
“This might be the type of legislation that might get broad bipartisan support because it’s hard to make the argument that there is a Second Amendment encroachment on banning this kind of accessory that is designed only to create mayhem and more violence,” Ros-Lehtinen told The Hill.
“Curbelo is a trusted legislator and partnering up with a Democrat counterpart — it’s got potential,” she said.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) later on Thursday issued a statement saying it favored additional regulations on the device, though it stopped short of supporting new legislation and in fact criticized a rush to pass gun control measures.
“Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks. This is a fact that has been proven time and again in countries across the world,” NRA leaders Wayne LaPierre and Christopher Cox said in a statement.
The two then said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives should review whether bump stocks comply with federal law.
“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” they said.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at her press briefing said the president was open to a discussion on the devices.
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif) also told The Hill he supports a bump stock ban, as did Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.). Both are moderates.
“Automatic weapons need to be illegal in the United States,” Royce told The Hill, “and it’s necessary to move legislation to make it impossible to covert a rifle to an automatic weapon.
“I think we will move legislation,” he added.
Even Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) seems to be warming to the idea. Earlier this week, he argued that more funding for mental-health programs was the best way for Congress to respond to mass shootings. But on Thursday morning, he appeared open to the idea of a ban on bump stocks.
“Clearly that’s something we need to look into,” Ryan told conservative host Hugh Hewitt on his new show on MSNBC.
Other strong Second Amendment supporters on Capitol Hill also signaled they’re open to considering some type of gun reform in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre, which left at least 58 people dead and more than 500 others injured.
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), a gun owner, questioned the need for anybody to be able to modify their rifles into something resembling a fully automatic weapon.
“I think it’s something we need to evaluate. If machine guns are illegal, does this create a machine gun? I’m disturbed by what I’ve learned,” Walden said in an interview with The Hill. The chairman said he hasn’t made any decisions yet, but he’ll look at the various bills.
“I think a lot of Americans were shocked when they heard about these devices that are readily available online and turn a rifle into a machine gun. I don’t see a purpose for that,” Walden added.
Congress has tried unsuccessfully to pass gun-reform legislation in recent years — most notably after a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
But this time feels different, Walden said.
“We’d be banning a device that turns a rifle into a machine gun. Machine guns are already illegal. This deserves very serious consideration,” Walden said.
In addition to the trio of Florida Republicans, a number of House GOP moderates said earlier that they back a ban on bump stocks. That list includes Tuesday Group Chairman Charlie Dent (Pa.) and Reps. Ryan Costello (Pa.), Leonard Lance (N.J.), Pete King (N.Y.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.).
Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas), the former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee and a gun owner, became the first lawmaker to call for a ban on bump stock devices.
“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 told The Hill on Wednesday.
–This report was updated at 2:47 p.m.
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