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Following the Oct. 1 massacre in Las Vegas, the National Rifle Association said it would be open to a federal “review” of so-called “bump stock” devices that convert semi-automatic rifles to automatic, to see if such devices complied with the law.
But bipartisan legislation in Congress to ban such devices does not have the NRA’s support.
This week the gun lobbying organization said it opposed a proposal to ban bump stocks and similar equipment that increase the firing rate of semi-automatic weapons. A Senate bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and a House bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla.
“The NRA opposes the Feinstein and Curbelo legislation,” Jennifer Baker, director of public affairs for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, told the Hill. “These bills are intentionally overreaching and would ban commonly owned firearm accessories.”
Following the Las Vegas attack — the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history — the NRA acknowledged that “devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.” But it added that pushing for gun-control laws would “do nothing to prevent future attacks.”
The House bill, introduced Tuesday, received support from both sides of the aisle, with 20 co-sponsors split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. In addition to banning “bump stocks,” the legislation would ban any gun accessories that increase the firing rate of semi-automatic weapons.
“It shall be unlawful for any person — in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce, to manufacture, possess, or transfer any part or combination of parts that is designed and functions to increase the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but does not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun,” according to the bill.
In a statement, Curbelo called the plan an “important first step to address gun violence,” by prohibiting devices that have been able to sidestep current law — without infringing upon the Second Amendment.
“Bump stocks” were found on several guns used in the Las Vegas massacre by shooter Stephen Paddock. The attack resulted in the deaths of 58 people, with dozens more injured. Paddock took his own life.
The device attaches to a semi-automatic weapon and allows it to fire continuously, discharging 400 to 800 rounds in 1 minute.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said lawmakers want to know why sales of bump stocks were allowed in the first place, noting that a regulatory fix would be “the smartest, quickest fix.”
Feinstein, who has proposed similar bills in the past, noted that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “lacks authority under the law to ban bump fire stocks.”
“The agency made this crystal clear in a 2013 letter to Congress, writing that ‘stocks of this type are not subject to the provisions of federal firearms statutes,’” Feinstein said in a statement. “Legislation is the only answer and Congress shouldn’t attempt to pass the buck.”
The ATF approved the devices for sale in 2010, saying they didn’t violate federal law.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.