US House Speaker: Las Vegas Gunman’s Firearm Accessory Should Be Examined
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan says a firearm accessory used by the gunman who killed 58 people and wounded hundreds of others in Las Vegas, Nevada, should be examined, possibly leading to Republican consideration of gun control legislation.
“Clearly, that is something we need to look into,” the Wisconsin Republican said Thursday in an interview with MSNBC’s Hugh Hewitt.
Shooter Stephen Paddock installed a device called a “bump stock” on 12 semiautomatic rifles in his hotel suite, which significantly increased the firing rate of his weapons to nearly match that of a machine gun. He opened fire Sunday on thousands of people attending a country music concert.
Ryan’s willingness to examine bump stocks appeared to mark a change of opinion. On Wednesday, Ryan said on WISN radio in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, that it was not the appropriate time to discuss legislation restricting the sale of the devices.
“What I don’t think you want your government to do is to lurch toward reactions before even having all the facts,” Ryan said. He added, “Bad people are going to do bad things.”
Wednesday, Texas’ John Cornyn, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, called for Congress to investigate bump stocks. Cornyn said later he asked Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, to convene a hearing on bump stocks and that Grassley was interested.
Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Orrin Hatch of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida also said they would be willing to consider legislation on bump stocks.
Republicans, and some Democrats, have historically resisted efforts to restrict gun ownership, which is protected by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Civilian ownership of automatic weapons has been generally illegal for decades, but the availability of bump stocks has effectively circumvented the ban.
Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, a strong advocate of gun control, announced Wednesday that she would introduce legislation to ban bump stocks, maintaining the devices exploit a loophole in existing law.
“No one should be able to easily and cheaply modify legal weapons into what are essentially machine guns,” she said during a news conference introducing the legislation.
Feinstein was joined by more than two dozen other Democrats who co-sponsored the bill. The fate of the measure, the first legislation introduced by Democrats following the mass shooting, is far from certain, given other priorities of the Republican-controlled Congress.