October 4, 2017 - 6:51 pm
Updated October 4, 2017 - 7:25 pm
WASHINGTON — As President Donald Trump met with the victims and heroes of Sunday’s mass shooting, Rep. Dina Titus “personally delivered” to White House staff a letter inviting him to meet with the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, a group established by the Democratic Caucus after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.
“You have the power to make real change in America and protect our communities from the senseless gun violence like we saw in Las Vegas,” she wrote. “Together, we can find common ground that respects and supports the 2nd Amendment while keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them — criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.”
Immediately after Sunday’s shooting, Democratic and Republican members of the Nevada congressional delegation shied away from gun politics and stuck to public statements of sympathy and solidarity with victims. By delivering a letter to White House staff and publicizing it, Titus moved the issue squarely into the partisan arena.
Titus also introduced a measure to ban bump stocks and other devices used to speed up the rounds per minute that semi-automatic weapons can fire.
According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a dozen of the 23 firearms found in shooter Stephen Paddock’s Mandalay Bay hotel suite were equipped with bump stocks.
“I am introducing this legislation in hopes of closing this dangerous loophole and ensuring that civilians cannot modify their guns to fire nine bullets per second,” said Titus. “This is the least that we can do.”
Nevada’s other two Democrats in the House — Reps. Ruben J. Kihuen and Jacky Rosen — announced their support for the measure. The lone Republican, Rep. Mark Amodei, who was not listed as a supporter, was on a plane and unable to give his position as of this writing.
The Titus bill serves as a companion to a measure announced earlier in the day by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who revealed that her daughter, retired judge Katherine Feinstein Mariano, almost attended the Route 91 Harvest festival. “That’s how close it came to me,” Feinstein said.
Feinstein’s office released a list of more than 20 co-sponsors, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev. There were no Republicans on the roster; without Republican support, the measure has no chance of passing the Senate.
While GOP support is not likely, it is not impossible. Senate Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson told The Hill he could support Feinstein’s bill.
“The fact that fully automatic weapons are already illegal and this makes another weapon capable (of automatic fire), I would be supportive of that,” said the Wisconsin Republican.
Johnson added the caveat, “unless I’m missing something here, but I don’t think I am.”
Gun Owners of America, however, released a statement in which Executive Director Erich Pratt said, “Feinstein is no stranger to placing restrictions on Second Amendment freedoms, as she was the original sponsor of the so-called ‘assault weapons’ ban in the 1990s. But bump stocks were approved by the Obama administration to help gun owners with disabilities fire their weapons.”
The government did approve the sale of bump stocks in 2010.
Feinstein was the author of the 1994 federal assault weapons ban passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton. The law had a 10-year life span and expired in 2004.
After the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting that left 26 dead, Feinstein introduced a new assault weapons ban; it failed in the Senate by a 20-vote margin.
Pratt gave voice to the wariness many gun supporters feel toward what they see as encroachment of their Second Amendment rights. “Any type of ban will be ignored by criminals and only serve to disarm honest citizens,” he wrote.
In his visit to Las Vegas to meet victims’ families and thank first responders, President Donald Trump refused to discuss whether the country has a “gun violence problem.”
“We’re not going to talk about that today,” Trump said. “We won’t talk about that.”