Republican proposes ban of "bump stocks" used in Las Vegas shooting

"A question that I have started asking around here is, ‘Why are these bump stocks legal?’'"

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published October 5, 2017 9:33AM (EDT)

 (AP/Susan Walsh)
(AP/Susan Walsh)

Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida announced that he would support a ban on "bump stocks," devices that allow semiautomatic guns to fire more rapidly. The Las Vegas mass shooter reportedly had two bump stocks in his Mandalay Bay hotel room.

"I definitely think we need to revisit the issue of gun safety. A question that I have started asking around here is, ‘Why are these bump stocks legal?’" Curbelo told WLRN, Miami's NPR affiliate. After noting that bump stocks are "a blatant circumvention of the law" banning automatic weapons, Curbelo argued that "I believe this presents an opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to finally come together to build consensus around common-sense gun policies."

He added, "Right now the best candidate for a common denominator is to focus on these bump stock devices, which are so deadly and so potent."

Curbelo has advocated gun control policies in the past, such as a bill he filed in 2016 that would have banned people from owning guns, who were also prohibited from flying. The difference here, though, is that there are other Republican congressmen who feel the way he does about bump stocks.

"I think they should be banned. There's no reason for a typical gun owner to own anything that converts a semi-automatic to something that behaves like an automatic," said Rep. Bill Flores of Texas to The Hill.

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin echoed that thought to reporters, arguing that "the fact that fully-automatic weapons are already illegal and this makes another weapon capable [of automatic fire], I would be supportive of that." The third-ranking Republican in the Senate, South Dakota Sen. John Thune, also said he was open to "take a look" at the idea of regulating bump stocks. And Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said it is now a "good time" to have a hearing on the device. 

Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush, called on President Donald Trump to ban bump stocks on Twitter:

In 2010, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF) declared that a bump stock is considered a part and therefore need not be regulated as a weapon. On Wednesday, three House Republicans sent a letter to the ATF asking the agency to reevaluate that decision, CBS News reported.

"The ATF must re-evaluate these devices, and it is my hope that they conclude these mechanisms violate the spirit, if not the letter, of the law. In the meantime, my colleagues and I will consider legislative options, because these fully-automatic simulator devices have no place in civil society," Illinois' Rep. Adam Kinzinger wrote with Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher and Arizona Rep. Martha McSally.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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