Bump Stock Ban Bills Look Dead In Congress

By on October 27, 2017

Remember the Las Vegas shooting on October 1 that was the largest mass murder in American history, with 58 people dead and 546 injured? It was less than a month ago. But the roiling waters of bad news and controversy that seem to be the new normal in the Trump era – Weinstein, Niger, Trump dissing a Gold Star widow, Corker and Flake slamming Trump, specious tax reform, to name some but hardly all – seem to have washed Stephen Paddock’s heinous armed rampage largely out of the public consciousness.

And that’s just what the National Rifle Association (NRA) and anti-gun control forces want. Despite the initial calls for something to be done (just like those after every previous gunfire rampage in recent years), including what Think Progress aptly calls the “soft support from the godforsaken NRA, even,” bills to ban bump stocks in both the Senate and House have fizzled out and look to be flatlining.

As a story on The Daily Beast on Tuesday points out, “Congressional aides and issue advocates say they see no viable path for passing even the most promising bill: an effort to ban the manufacturing and sale of bump stocks, which were used by the Las Vegas shooter to essentially turn his semi-automatic weapons into fully automatics ones.”

It quotes one Democratic congressional aide as saying, “Depressing but not surprising.” Another said, “It’s pathetic.”

Two bills to ban bump stocks were introduced in the House. One was a bipartisan measure from Representatives Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Seth Moulton (D-MA) with 10 co-sponsors from each party. The other had 173 Democrats as sponsors. Daily Beast sources say neither looks likely to make it out of the House Judiciary Committee.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a bump stock bill that not even a single Republican signed onto. That one appears stalled as well in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The NRA suggested that bump stocks could be regulated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF). But as Daily Beast noted, “the ATF Association, which consists of current and former ATF employees, has said that they do not have the authority to actually regulate bump stocks since current law prohibits them from regulating accessories.”

A Google Trends graph printed by Think Progress shows how, by the middle of this month, interest in bump stocks plummeted to near zero.

As one of the congressional aides who spoke to Daily Beast noted, this fall-off happens after every mass shooting interest. “You get a week of ‘We are going to do something,’ and then it’s forgotten. It sucks and it’s a shame. After the next gun incident, I’m sure this will come back up.”