Stephen Paddock murdered nearly 60 people with an assault-style gun modified by a “bump stock” accessory to mimic a fully automatic weapon. Now, Republican leaders have apparently concluded, “Hey, maybe this shouldn’t be legal, after all.”
On Wednesday, following the introduction of a Democratic-backed bill that would ban the type of “bump stock” conversion kits that Paddock used, several Republican leaders indicated they would be open to reviewing the legislation—an astounding concession from the party that has blocked every single piece of gun control legislation in living memory.
Speaking to the New York Times, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas seemed confounded by the legality of “bump stock” altered weapons:
“I own a lot of guns, and as a hunter and sportsman, I think that’s our right as Americans, but I don’t understand the use of this bump stock,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said, adding, “It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on.”
Does it seem obvious? One would think that limiting the size of magazines was also obvious, but the Grand Old Party successfully blocked that too, despite yet another mass shooting at Virginia Tech nearly a decade ago. What about background checks? Aren’t those obviously necessary to ensure people with a history of mental illness can’t easily buy guns? Apparently not. But “bump stocks,” those cross a line.
Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Orrin Hatch of Utah, and Marco Rubio of Florida all told the Times that they would consider a ban on “bump stocks.” From the Times:
“We certainly want to learn more details on what occurred in Las Vegas,” Mr. Rubio said, “and if there are vulnerabilities in federal law that we should be addressing to prevent such attacks in the future, we would always be open to that.”
The closest any Republican has actually come to limiting gun control in the wake of Las Vegas is Bill Flores, a congressman from Texas. On Wednesday, Flores advocated for an all-out ban of “bump stocks” in an interview with The Hill. “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,” he said.
ABC News spoke with Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the House Republican chair, who also said she would consider legislation banning the weapon accessory. Republican leaders are consulting with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives about the effects of the device, Rodgers said (as if Sunday night’s massacre wasn’t enough evidence).
In order to actually pass this legislation, Republicans will have to relinquish their unquenchable thirst for the NRA’s backing—and funding. But does anyone actually expect them to do that? No. Talk is cheap.