WASHINGTON – Congressional Republicans are opening up to the possibility of at least one increased gun-control measure: banning the sale of “bump stocks” designed to increase the rate of fire on various long guns.
Bump stocks, which replace the fixed stock of a rifle, allow the user to increase a semiautomatic weapon’s rate of fire by harnessing its recoil. Bump firing is a technique, however, and it can also be done without the relatively inexpensive device.
Regardless, Republicans are beginning to express concern after bump stocks were used on some of the firearms in the mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival on Sunday night.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told Hugh Hewitt on MSNBC on Thursday morning that a bump-stock ban was clearly “something we need to look into.”
Rep. Dave Brat, a Virginia Republican who is one of the most conservative members of Congress and a member of the House Freedom Caucus, told Business Insider he was open to debating a ban on bump-stock devices but would have to learn more about the issue before supporting a ban.
Other House Republicans have also signaled openness to bump-stock legislation. Rep. Bill Flores of Texas told The Hill that he thought bump stocks should be banned.
“There’s no reason for a typical gun owner to own anything that converts a semiautomatic to something that behaves like an automatic,” he said.
Top Senate Republicans opened to the idea as well. Sen. Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, who chairs the Senate’s homeland security committee, said he would support a ban.
“Automatic weapons are illegal. If that facilitates that, to me it would be subject to the same ban,” Johnson told Politico. “If that actually gets on the Senate floor, I’d vote for it.”
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said he thought Congress should consider acting on the issue.
“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,” he told The New York Times. “It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on.”
Others, including Sen. John Thune of North Dakota, stopped short of supporting a ban while still expressing openness to a debate.
“I think it’s something we ought to look into,” Thune told Politico. “I don’t know a lot about them, and I’m somebody who, I’d like to think, is fairly familiar with a lot of firearms and you know, the use of those. And that incident out there is something that I think we need to take a look at.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, who is up for reelection in Arizona next year, said on Fox News on Wednesday that discussions on the issue were imminent.
“I do think we’ll have discussions now about what was found in that hotel room, in terms of accessibility of – you know, the ability to turn a semiautomatic into an automatic, automatic weaponry is illegal, per se, but he seems to have access to the material to change it,” Flake said.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California on Wednesday introduced a bill that would ban bump stocks.