Sen. Dianne Feinstein is back in the national spotlight as Congress gears up for a fight over gun control.
Gun lobby hints it may support proposed ban on bump stocks
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s latest gun control effort gained traction on Thursday, as some Republican leaders — and even the National Rifle Association — suggested it might be open to her proposal to ban a device used by the gunman in this week’s Las Vegas shooting.
Republican leaders voiced muted support Wednesday for Feinstein’s effort to ban bump stocks— a device used by the gunman to drastically increase his rate of fire as he killed 58 people Sunday night.
In a highly unusualmove, leaders of the National Rifle Association — the most powerful gun group in the country — said in a statement that they believe “devices designed to allowsemi-auto- matic rifles to function like fullyautomatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.” The NRA usually opposes nearly all gun control measures.
A bump stock, which can be bought online for a few hundred dollars, is used tomodify semiautomatic guns into firearms that can shoot hundreds of rounds a minute — essentially transforming legal weapons into something like a machine gun. The device replaces a gun’s shoulder stock,
harnessing the recoilmovement of a gun to continue firing.
Investigators say Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas gunman, had attached 12 bump stocks to guns in his hotel room, which helped him carry out the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.
Bump stocks are al- ready illegal under California state law, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Xavier Becerra said.
In the wake of the carnage, Feinstein, one of the senate’s leading guncontrol advocates, introduced a bill to ban bump stocks. “There is no better way than to honor the 58 people who were slaughtered than to take action to prevent this from happening yet again,” she said at a press conference on Wednesday. “If not, when will we ever do it?”
“There is no betterway than to honor the 58 people who were slaughtered than to take action to prevent this from happening yet again. If not, when will we ever do it?” — Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Feinstein’s bill has 29 co- sponsors, all Democrats or independents who caucus with Democrats. But Republican leaders also signaled this week that compromise was a possibility.
“It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on,” Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, one of the top Republicans in the Senate, told the New York Times. House Speaker Paul Ryan said on a radio show Thursday morning that bump stocks were “clearly… something that we need to look into.” He said he had never heard of the device before this week.
Activists see a bump stock ban as the most promising avenue for successful gun control action in Congress in years.
“It’s hard to see a good reason for these to be in civilian hands — I don’t know how that can be justified,” said Amanda Wilkins, California legislative chair of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “Congress is going to be hard-pressed to oppose that legislation.”
Sam Paredes, the executive director of Gun Owners of California, said his group disagreed with the NRA and would oppose any restrictions on bump stocks. “Focusing on the devices instead of the criminal and what he did is the wrong way to go,” he said.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein speaks during a conference about gun legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday.