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DA Wolfson joins prosecutors in urging ‘common sense’ gun laws

WASHINGTON — Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson recalled the terror of the Las Vegas Strip shooting Wednesday and joined other prosecutors from American cities who gathered here to push for “common sense” gun laws.

The emergency summit organized by Prosecutors Against Gun Violence comes after the Oct.1 gun deaths at a country music festival in Las Vegas and the Nov. 5 massacre at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas — two of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.

Prosecutors attending the summit are backing a bill filed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., that would ban so-called bump stocks, a device that accelerates the rate of fire of semi-automatic rifles.

Stephen Paddock equipped 12 of the 23 weapons found in his Mandalay Bay hotel room with the devices to shoot down from the 32nd floor into a crowd of 22,000 people attending the Las Vegas concert.

The shooting left 58 people dead and more than 500 wounded.

The sheer magnitude and the “enormity was virtually unimaginable,” Wolfson said. “Nobody could believe what had just happened.”

Wolfson said bump stocks “should be banned and wiped off the face of this earth.”

Feinstein, who attended the summit, was joined by more than 20 prosecutors who back her bill to ban bump stocks and other devices. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., a former prosecutor, is a co-sponsor of the bill.

Those attending the summit included district attorneys and prosecutors from cities in Florida, California, New York, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Missouri and other states.

Prosecutors attending the summit called the Feinstein bill common sense legislation. It would also ban silencers, armor-piercing ammunition and other devices to modify weapons.

Republican leaders are asking the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to review regulations on the devices.

A bipartisan bill in the House that would require the ATF to regulate bump stocks like machine guns was filed in October by Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Dina Titus, D-Nev., but it has languished for lack of committee action.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing next week on several pieces of legislation, including Feinstein’s bill, to explore ways to prevent gun violence and mass tragedies that have become commonplace in recent years.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said the panel will also examine a bill to strengthen reporting requirements by the Armed Services to the FBI database used by retailers to perform background checks on gun buyers.

The Air Force failed to report domestic assault convictions by Devin P. Kelley to the National Crime Information Center database that would have prevented him from purchasing the weapons used in the Texas church shooting.

The Las Vegas gunman had no criminal background and purchased weapons legally. Bump stocks can be purchased at stores and online. They can be attached to semi-automatic rifles.

A bill to strengthen reporting requirements to the FBI database was filed by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who has called for gun control measures since the 2012 slaying of 20 first-graders and six adult instructors at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Both Cortez Masto and Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., are co-sponsors of the legislation.

Similar legislation to streamline filing by state and federal agencies to the FBI database was filed by Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas. It was before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

The committee also weighed legislation to loosen concealed carry laws, supported by the National Rifle Association, and filed by Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C.

But the committee has yet to schedule a hearing on bipartisan gun control legislation on bump stocks filed after the Las Vegas shooting.

“I strongly believe the way to combat gun violence is not to infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, but to enforce the laws against criminals,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., the committee chairman.

Contact Gary Martin at gmartin@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7390. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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