In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, some Republicans say they are open to potentially ban gun-conversion kits commonly known as "bump stocks," which can transform semiautomatic weapons so that they mimic how automatic weapons fire.
For decades, the Republican party has resisted any type of gun-control legislation. But GOP leaders seem to have slightly softened their stance after learning the gunman in the Las Vegas shooting used bump stocks to transform his rifles into more powerful, and deadly, weapons. The attack, which took place at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night, left 58 dead and more than 500 injured.
"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," Sen. John Cornyn, the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate, told reporters on Wednesday. “It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on."
Cornyn also questioned whether the kits should be legal, and said he wanted the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the topic. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and 25 other Senate Democrats already introduced a bill that would ban bump stocks. Although she hasn't reached out to her Republican colleagues, Cornyn's comments show a small opening for bipartisanship on this issue.
And it's not only Senate Republicans who might be open to a ban: House Speaker Paul Ryan echoed Cornyn's words on Thursday, saying enough Republicans in the House could be willing to pass legislation banning bump stocks.
"Look, I didn't even know what they were until this week, and I'm an avid sportsman," he said. "So, I think we're quickly coming up to speed with what this is. Fully automatic weapons have been banned for a long time. Apparently this allows you to take a semiautomatic and turn it into a fully automatic, so clearly that's something we need to look into."
While it's a good thing that Republicans are signaling they are open to banning bump stocks, there's no guarantee they will actually do it. And Congress has its plate full this fall as it is. The sooner you call, and the more pressure you put on your congresspeople, the better chances there are that we will see some progress. Calling (and tweeting, and sending letters, and protesting) shows your elected officials that you care about gun safety and want to prevent similar mass shootings. So, what are you waiting for?