Republicans Oppose Banning Bump Stocks Used In Las Vegas Shooting

Gun Rights

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WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans this week ruled out a new ban on bump stocks, ensuring America’s market for the accessory that can effectively turn semi-automatic weapons into machine guns will remain open for the foreseeable future.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) sought unanimous consent to pass a bill banning bump stocks on the Senate floor on Tuesday, but Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) objected.

In 2017, a single shooter fired more than 1,000 rounds using a bump stock into a concert crowd in Las Vegas, killing 60 people and injuring 850 more. Former President Donald Trump’s administration banned bump stocks in the wake of the massacre, but the Supreme Court last week overturned the regulation. The conservative 6-3 majority on the court said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives exceeded its authority, adding that the agency usurped power that belonged to Congress.

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But Republicans made it clear this week that they had no intention of supporting congressional action.

“I think that we have to ask ourselves: What is the real gun violence problem in this country, and are we legislating in a way that solves fake problems? Or solves real problems?” Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) told reporters Monday when asked about banning bump stocks.

Pressed about the high death toll in the Las Vegas shooting, Vance said, “The question is: How many people would have been shot alternatively?”

He added: “Will anyone actually not choose a bump stock because [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer passes a piece of legislation? Or you end up just inhibiting the rights of law-abiding Americans and actually do nothing to solve the gun violence problem to begin with.”

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), whose state has had its share of high-profile mass shootings, said he, too, respected the Supreme Court decision, adding that he is “fine with it being a state’s issue.”

A few Republicans said they supported banning bump stocks, but they dinged Democrats for not working with Republicans to pass legislation in committee first before trying to do so on the Senate floor.

“I just think that bump stocks are far too dangerous,” Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a proponent of tougher gun laws, meanwhile, said the moment called for urgent action and criticized Republicans for coming out against a federal ban on bump stocks when it was Trump’s administration that banned them in the first place.

“I don’t think there’s a big public constituency for the legalization of machine guns,” Murphy said.

“I don’t understand why Republicans supported banning bump stocks when Donald Trump was in office, and now all of a sudden they’re taking this out on the NRA,” he added. “This is an opportunity to do the right thing and make sure that psychopaths and madmen don’t have access to machine guns.”

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) also spoke on the importance of taking bump stocks seriously, saying at a press conference Tuesday, “The carnage created by bump stocks is very real. So shame on anyone who says it’s a fake problem.”

After the 2017 shooting, congressional Republicans heeded calls from the National Rifle Association and other gun proponents not to pass legislation banning bump stocks. Then-House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said that a regulatory fix was the “smarter” course of action, despite warnings from Democrats that a regulation could be easily overturned.

Americans broadly support stricter restrictions on firearms, according to public polling.

Republicans embraced modest gun safety provisions in 2022 after a spate of mass shootings in Texas and New York, including funding incentivizing red flag laws that allow groups to petition courts to remove weapons from people deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Now, with the 2024 presidential election on the horizon, Republicans are positioning themselves as ardent defenders of the Second Amendment. Trump even claimed in a speech at an NRA event earlier this year that he “did nothing” to restrict guns, despite his administration’s prior actions otherwise.

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