WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans are opening up to the possibility of at least one increased gun control measure, banning the sale of “bump stocks” designed to increase the rate of fire on various long guns.
Bump stocks, which replace the fixed stock of a rifle, allowing the user to increase the rate of fire by reducing recoil and keeping the rest of the firearm in place. Bump firing is a technique, however, and it can also be done without the relatively inexpensive device.
Regardless, Republicans are beginning to express concern after bump stocks were used on some of the firearms in the mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival on Sunday night.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told Hugh Hewitt on MSNBC Thursday morning that a bump stock ban is clearly “something we need to look into.”
And in its first statement since the shooting that left 59 dead and over 500 wounded, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and Executive Director Chris Cox said they would be open to the idea.
“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” the organisation said in a statement.
Virginia Rep. Dave Brat, one of the most conservative members of Congress and a member of the House Freedom Caucus, told Business Insider he is open to debating a potential ban on bump stock devices, but that he would have to learn more about the issue before he could support such a thing.
Other House Republicans have also signalled openness to bump stock legislation. Rep. Bill Flores of Texas told The Hill that he thinks bump stocks should be banned.
“There’s no reason for a typical gun owner to own anything that converts a semiautomatic to something that behaves like an automatic,” he said.
Top Senate Republicans opened to the idea as well. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, said he would support a ban.
“Automatic weapons are illegal. If that facilitates that, to me it would be subject to the same ban,” Johnson told Politico. “If that actually gets on the Senate floor, I’d vote for it.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said he thinks Congress should consider acting on this issue.
“I own a lot of guns, and as a hunter and sportsman, I think that’s our right as Americans, but I don’t understand the use of this bump stock,” he told The New York Times. “It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on.”
Others, including North Dakota Sen. John Thune, stopped short of supporting a ban while still expressing openness to a debate.
“I think it’s something we ought to look into,” Thune told Politico. “I don’t know a lot about them, and I’m somebody who, I’d like to think, is fairly familiar with a lot of firearms and you know, the use of those. And that incident out there is something that I think we need to take a look at.”
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who is up for reelection in 2018, said on Fox News on Wednesday that discussions on the issue are imminent.
“I do think we’ll have discussions now about what was found in that hotel room, in terms of accessibility of — you know, the ability to turn a semi-automatic into an automatic, automatic weaponry is illegal, per se, but he seems to have access to the material to change it,” Flake said.
The Republicans’ change of pace on one gun control measure comes after California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill to ban bump stocks.
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