NRA backs regulation of 'bump stock' device used by Las Vegas gunman

The devices may have helped Stephen Paddock fire faster, killing more people

Emily Shugerman
Washington DC
,Alexandra Wilts
Friday 06 October 2017 16:16
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A little-known device called a "bump stock" is attached to a semi-automatic rifle at the Gun Vault store and shooting range
A little-known device called a "bump stock" is attached to a semi-automatic rifle at the Gun Vault store and shooting range

In its first statement since the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has called for additional regulations on "bump stocks" – the devices that likely allowed the Las Vegas gunman to fire faster – with Donald Trump saying that it was something "we'll be looking into" during the "next short period of time.".

Senior Republicans had already suggested the issue of the gun modification tool should be something Congress would look into, but the joint statement from the NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and Executive Director Chris Cox has helped ensure there was a clear path for potential change without running up against opposition from the powerful lobby group.

"The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulation," the statement said.

Bump stocks were originally intended to help people with limited hand mobility fire a semi-automatic without the individual trigger pulls required. They can fit over the rear shoulder-stock assembly on a semi-automatic rifle and with applied pressure cause the weapon to fire continuously, increasing the rate from between 45 and 60 rounds per minute to between 400 and 800 rounds per minute, according to the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein,a California Democrat, who introduced legislation this week to ban them.

The devices were approved by the Obama administration's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2010, but the NRA is now asking for that decision to be reviewed.

"The National Rifle Association is calling on the [ATF] to review whether these devices comply with federal law," Mr La Pierre and Mr Cox said.

The statement is out of character for the NRA, which is has consistently pushed for less regulation. The group usually maintains a low profile in the wake of mass shootings, as it had in the days following the Las Vegas massacre, which saw gunman Brian Paddock kill 58 people and injure nearly 500 more before turning the gun on himself.

Inaction has been the norm following mass shootings including the Sandy Hook, Connecticut, massacre of schoolchildren five years ago, last year's mass murder at the Pulse nightclub in Florida, and a baseball field shooting this year in which House Majority Whip Steve Scalise came close to death.

Mr Trump had been similarly silent on gun control in recent days, telling reporters he would "talk about that on a later date".

But before the president's evening remarks to reporters, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had said that she welcomed the NRA's latest statement, adding that the administration is "certainly open to having that conversation."

Body cam footage shows officers during Las Vegas mass shooting

The Las Vegas shooting – the deadliest in modern US history – appears to have shifted the opinion of some pro-gun Republicans, too, particularly after authorities revealed that the gunman, 64-year-old Paddock, rigged 12 semi-automatic rifles with the bump stocks.

“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 and that’s another reason to have a hearing,” Senator John Cornyn, the No 2 Republican in the Senate, told reporters.

Concerned about how these so-called bump stocks are being used, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Robert Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, have both suggested they would consider further rules for the devices.

“Clearly that’s something we need to look into,” Mr Ryan said on MSNBC.

“We’re going to look at the issue,” Mr Goodlatte told the The Washington Post. When asked if he had a personal concern about their legality, he replied: “I have a personal concern about what happened.”

Republican Representatives Carlos Curbelo, Mark Meadows and Bill Flores have also all called for investigations into the devices, too.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, a long-time gun control advocate, has already introduced a bill banning the sale and possession of bump stocks.

But the NRA has not gone so far as to ally themselves with pro-gun-control politicians.

"Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control," Mr La Pierre and Mr Cox said, adding: "Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks."

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