Congress’ most powerful Republican says lawmakers should examine “bump-stocks”, a rapid-fire accessory used by the gunman in Sunday’s Las Vegas massacre, BBC report.
House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan told a radio talk show: “Clearly that’s something we need to look into.”
Texas Senator John Cornyn – the number two Republican in the Senate – has called for hearings into the devices.
A bump-stock attaches to the butt of a rifle, allowing the weapon to fire close to the rate of a machine gun.
Stephen Paddock, the gunman in Las Vegas, had fixed the accessories to 12 rifles.
It appears a move to ban bump-stock devices is picking up steam in Congress. Some normally staunch gun-control opponents seem willing to consider new legislation. The NRA, which opposes just about any new regulations, has gone silent.
That’s going to change soon.
The challenge for gun rights supporters is a bump-stock ban opens the door for a new debate about where to draw the line over limiting a firearm’s lethality. For decades it’s been at how many bullets can be fired with one trigger pull.
Bump-stocks blur that line. Can you outlaw a device that helps squeeze off rounds more quickly but not think about prohibiting quick-change magazines or limiting their sizes? Or banning pistol grips, which make firing easier?
It won’t take many Republicans, with the NRA looking over their shoulder, to grind the process to a halt.
“I didn’t even know what they were until this week,” Mr Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, said on Thursday of bump-stocks.
He told talk show host Hugh Hewitt: “I think we’re quickly coming up to speed with what this is.”
For years Republicans in Congress, as well as conservative Democrats, have blocked gun control efforts in the wake of violent tragedies.
But now a liberal Democratic gun control measure appears to have found a receptive audience across the aisle.
Senator Cornyn said on Wednesday: “It strikes me as odd that it’s illegal to convert a semi-automatic weapon to an automatic weapon, but apparently these bump-stocks are not illegal under the current law.
“I own a lot of guns. 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 said his colleagues should hold hearings to discuss the legality of the devices.