WASHINGTON — While states including Nevada have moved swiftly on gun violence because of federal inaction, two House Democrats have filed legislation in Congress to ban the manufacture, sale and possession of bump stock devices that were used in Las Vegas to kill 58 people and injure hundreds more.
The bill was filed by Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., and Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., in response to the Las Vegas massacre — the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history — which occurred Oct. 1, 2017.
Titus called the bill “common sense” legislation to combat gun violence.
“In Las Vegas, thoughts and prayers are not enough, and neither are flimsy executive actions that get tied up in the courts,” Titus said.
The House bill, though, is expected to face an uphill battle in the GOP-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has refused to take up a series of bills passed by the new Democrat-controlled lower chamber.
Bump stocks are devices attached to semi-automatic rifles to accelerate the rate of fire to nearly that of automatic weapons.
Stephen Paddock, 64, attached bump stocks to 13 semi-automatic rifles before he opened fire from his 32nd-floor room at Mandalay Bay on 2,000 people attending a country concert on the Las Vegas Strip. The shooting prompted the Trump administration to issue a regulation through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives against the devices.
The administration’s ruling has spurred lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the decision, which also could be rescinded by future presidential administrations.
Gun advocates want federal legislation to ban the devices outright, and failure of Congress to act has prompted several states to jump in.
Nevada gun control
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed gun control measures passed during the 2019 legislative session into law, including a bill to ban bump stocks in Nevada.
Former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Special Agent David Chipman said the Las Vegas shooting carnage was amplified by the use of bump stocks. But, he said, federal lawmakers continue to drag their feet on the issue.
“In an effort to avoid prolonged judicial disputes, we applaud Rep. Cicilline and Rep. Titus for stepping up to lead a new effort to ban bump stocks and all devices manufactured to allow shooters to accelerate the speed at which they can fire a gun,” said Chipman, a policy adviser with a gun control group headed by former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in a statement.
Cicilline, vice chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, said Congress has an “obligation to make sure that these devices are not available to anyone.”
“The only way to do that is by passing legislation banning bump stocks and trigger cranks,” Cicilline said.
Two weeks ago, members of Congress decried the lack of federal progress on gun control legislation despite several mass shootings that have dominated headlines since the Las Vegas tragedy.
The Democrat-controlled House passed a bill earlier this year to close loopholes in the federal background check law for people buying weapons. Republican leaders in the Senate have refused to take up the bill.
And the group headed by Giffords, using figures supplied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, calculated that 11,000 people have died of gun violence in the 114 days since the House passed its bill — many from domestic violence and shootings that claim an estimated 100 lives each day.
A poll by Quinnipiac University in February 2018 found that 97 percent of the survey’s respondents supported background checks, including 97 percent of current gun owners.
Giffords, shot in the head in 2011 while meeting with constituents in a Tucson strip mall, has led efforts to push Congress to act on legislation. She urged those attending a Capitol Hill rally to “fight, fight, fight.”