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The Latest: Trump considering 'bump stock' ban

Donald Trump, Photo: AP. Donald Trump,

October 05, 2017 10:24 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the idea in Congress of banning "bump stocks" like the device used by the Las Vegas shooter (all times EDT):

6:30 p.m.

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President Donald Trump says his administration is considering whether "bump stock" devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to perform more like fully automatic weapons should be banned in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre.

Trump says ahead of a dinner with senior military leaders at the White House Thursday evening, "We'll be looking into that over the next short period of time."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier Thursday that the president welcomed a review of U.S. policy on the devices, which were apparently used by the Las Vegas shooter to make his weapons more deadly.

The National Rifle Association has said the devices should be "subject to additional regulations." And House Speaker Paul Ryan says a ban is "clearly something we need to look into."

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6 p.m.

The National Rifle Association says "bump stock" devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to perform more like fully automatic weapons should be "subject to additional regulations."

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is praising the announcement, saying, "We welcome that and a conversation on that."

House Speaker Paul Ryan is adding his support, as are other top Republicans.

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2:32 p.m.

The National Rifle Association says the "bump stocks" device that the Las Vegas shooter used to turn semi-automatic rifles into fully automated weapons should be "subject to additional regulations."

In a statement on Thursday, the NRA says the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives should immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.

The organization which holds a powerful sway over members of Congress dismissed some of the initial response from lawmakers who have pressed for more gun control.

Said the NRA: "Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks."

The statement came from NRA leaders Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox.

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2:30 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump welcomes a review of U.S. policy on so-called bump stock devices that legally make semi-automatic rifles into faster-firing automatic weapons.

Presidential spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Thursday that "we're certainly open to having that conversation."

Her remarks are part of a growing bipartisan chorus of calls to take a step in the direction of regulating guns in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. The killer in Las Vegas apparently used the legal bump stock devices on legal rifles, essentially converting them into automatic weapons, which are banned. That allowed him to spray gunfire into the crowd below much more quickly. At least 58 people were killed and hundreds were injured when he opened fire on an outdoor country music festival.

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12:25 p.m.

The top Republican in the House says he's open to considering a possible ban on "bump stocks," the device the shooter in Las Vegas apparently used to make semi-automatic rifles perform more like fully automatic weapons.

Speaker Paul Ryan said in an interview with MSNBC that aired Thursday it's "clearly something we need to look into."

The comments from lawmakers including No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn of Texas mark a surprising departure from the GOP's general antipathy to gun regulations of any kind.

The devices are known as "bump stocks," among other names. They're legal and originally were intended to help people with limited hand mobility fire a semi-automatic without the individual trigger pulls required.

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4 a.m.

Senior congressional Republicans say they are open to considering legislation banning "bump stocks" like the shooter in Las Vegas apparently used to make semi-automatic rifles perform more like fully automatic weapons.

The Wednesday comments from lawmakers including the No. 2 Senate Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, marked a surprising departure from GOP lawmakers' general antipathy to gun regulations of any kind. But they were far from a guarantee of a path forward for the new legislation by California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, especially with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan making clear their priorities are elsewhere.

Cornyn said as a hunter and sportsman he doesn't understand the use of the bump stock and wants to have a hearing on it.

House Speaker Paul Ryan added his support, as have other top Republicans.

"Obviously we need to look at how we can tighten up the compliance with this law so that fully automatic weapons are banned," the Wisconsin Republican told reporters at an event in Chestertown, Maryland.

It was a rare concession for all concerned. The nation's largest gun lobby and most Republicans have stood firmly in recent years against stricter gun regulations, even as one mass shooting after another horrified the nation. They blocked background check legislation after the shooting deaths of elementary school children in Connecticut in 2012, and took no action despite intense pressure from Democrats, including a House floor sit-in, after last year's bloodbath at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Even gunfire that left House Majority Whip Steve Scalise near death at a baseball practice earlier this year didn't change the equation.

But this time, the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, combined with the opportunity to back a limited change that could potentially be accomplished administratively, spurred a shift.

Robert Spitzer, chairman of the political science department at SUNY Cortland, who watches the gun industry closely, said he was surprised.

Still, he said, "it's a pretty small concession in the realm of gun stuff. We're not talking about banning assault weapons here. It's a very specific accessory."

The device, which retails for around $200, is not known among gun dealers as an item that is hugely popular. It was created ostensibly to help people with disabilities more easily fire AK- and AR-platform long guns.

The device causes the gun to buck back and forth, repeatedly "bumping" the trigger against the shooter's finger. Technically, that means the finger is pulling the trigger for each round fired, keeping the weapon a legal semi-automatic. Because it creates a significant rocking motion it also means that the gun is "spraying" bullets and it's difficult to hit a target.

The stocks have been around for less than a decade. Many Capitol Hill Republicans said this week they had never even heard of them before the shooting in Las Vegas. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms during the Obama administration gave its seal of approval to their sale in 2010 after concluding that they did not violate federal law.

Now, some Republicans appear inclined to blame the Obama administration for allowing their use in the first place.

"We have to get more education on what they are," Ryan said. "Was it a regulatory misstep by ATF some years ago?"

The issue of bump stocks came up aboard Air Force One as President Donald Trump traveled back from visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday, according to GOP Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada, who was on board and said Trump sounded open to a change.

But Democrats insisted that a regulatory change by the ATF would not be sufficient.

"Federal regulations won't be able to fully close this loophole," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who introduced a bill this week to ban the devices. "Legislation would make crystal clear that Congress is banning all devices that allow a weapon to achieve an automatic rate of fire, regardless of how a weapon is altered."

It was uncertain whether Congress would go that far.

At the same time, the attention on the devices was already causing an industry response. Slide Fire, the leading maker of bump stocks, suspended sales of the items. In a post on its website, the company said it was not taking any new orders "to provide the best service with those already placed."

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Associated Press writer Lisa Marie Pane contributed from Atlanta.


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