WASHINGTON - With political pressure mounting after a shooting in Las Vegas that left nearly 60 dead, two Texas Republicans are joining calls for Congress to take action on “bump stocks,” legal devices used by the killer to modify rifles to fire like machine guns.
Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican leader, wants the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on the massacre, with special focus on the firearm attachment, he said during a call with Texas reporters Wednesday.
And Rep. Bill Flores of Bryan, a conservative and gun owner, wants Congress to ban the product outright, according to The Hill.
“There’s no reason for a typical gun owner to own anything that converts a semiautomatic to something that behaves like an automatic,” Flores said, adding: "I didn't know there was such a thing. There's no reason for it."
A ban on bump stocks is emerging as a potential compromise measure in the perennial congressional gridlock over gun control—a fight that resumed after Stephen Paddock fired hundreds of rounds into a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday. In addition to the dozens who died, more than 500 people were injured.
Authorities say Paddock had bump stocks on several of the guns found in his hotel room, though it was unclear if he used them in the attack before taking his own life.
A bump stock can be purchased for as little as a few hundred dollars.
Despite other mass shootings in recent years, lawmakers have failed to reach consensus on what gun control measures are needed or could prevent mass violence.
Democrats have long called for expanded background checks and to re-establish a ban on semiautomatic assault-style rifles, but Republicans have denounced measures that they say would infringe upon Second Amendment rights.
In the wake of the Las Vegas violence, however, GOP lawmakers—and the powerful National Rifle Association—are under increasing pressure to give ground. Now, some Republicans are joining Democrats in targeting what they say is a legal loophole that undermines laws restricting access to fully automatic weapons.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation Wednesday to ban bump stocks and similar devices.
Her bill—co-sponsored by several Democrats—would "ban the sale, transfer, importation, manufacture or possession of bump stocks, trigger cranks and similar accessories that accelerate a semiautomatic rifle's rate of fire," according to her office.
“The only reason to fire so many rounds so fast is to kill large numbers of people," she said in a statement. "No one should be able to easily and cheaply modify legal weapons into what are essentially machine guns.”
The idea is gaining traction with some Republicans.
Georgia Sen. David Perdue, a conservative, said he would consider the bill after learning that bump stocks are legal.
"You can't buy a chain-fed machine gun in the United States today—here's a reason for that," he told USA Today. "I'd want to make sure that nobody has access to that, if that's the law of the land."
And Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson told reporters he had “no problem” with banning bump stocks.
Cornyn, also a member of the Judiciary Committee, said that because Paddock had no criminal record and was a licensed gun owner, “it’s hard to figure out what kind of law we could pass that would prevent that sort of suicidal and homicidal act.”
But the “unique aspect of the bump stock and how you would literally transform a semiautomatic weapon into an automatic weapon is something that I think bears looking into," Cornyn said.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, another Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, joined Cornyn’s call for a hearing, according to NBC News.
It was unclear whether President Donald Trump would back the measure should it gain broader support from his party.
The president, who traveled to Las Vegas to meet with first responders, medical staffers and survivors Wednesday, declined to discuss gun control.
When asked if he believed America had a “gun violence problem,” Trump said: “We're not going to talk about that today. We won't talk about that.”
*Original article by Katie Leslie Nicole Cobler; curated from www.dallasnews.com