Politics

House GOP Shows ‘Overwhelming’ Interest in Bipartisan Bump Stock Bill

Speaker Paul Ryan opens door for House to consider legislative action on the devices

Rep. Carlos Curbelo said his office has been “overwhelmed” by bipartisan support for a forthcoming bill restricting access to bump stocks, rifle accessories that increase the rate of fire. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s office has received dozens of calls from lawmakers in both parties who have demonstrated interest in a bill he and Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts plan to introduce that will limit access to bump stocks, rifle accessories that effectively convert semiautomatic rifles into rapid-fire ones.

The Florida Republican said he has been “overwhelmed” by interest from GOP colleagues in the measure he and his staff are producing.

Kansas Republican Reps. Kevin Yoder and Lynn Jenkins both took to Twitter to express support for a bill to regulate bump stocks.

“While I’m a strong supporter of our Second Amendment, when you can modify a legal semi-automatic rifle and make it function like an illegal fully automatic rifle — something isn’t right,” Jenkins said.

Congress banned the sale of fully automatic weapons in 1986.

Jenkins called for Congress to “close the regulatory loophole” that allows the manufacture and sale of bump stocks and similar devices.

Yoder said he will “support measures to regulate or ban these types of devices.”

“As the details of the shooting in Las Vegas have become clearer,” he wrote, “it’s evident that action must be taken with regard to bump stocks.”

Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old gunman who killed at least 59 people and injured at least 520 more in Las Vegas Sunday night, had at his disposal 12 semiautomatic rifles equipped with bump stocks as he raked concertgoers with bullets from his 32nd-floor room at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, investigators have said.

Semiautomatic rifles require the shooter to manually pull the trigger to fire each round. A bump stock attachment modifies the gun, allowing shooters to empty magazines in a matter of seconds.

Asked if the bill would fully ban bump stocks or just regulate access to them, Curbelo said the language will depend on the consensus of the GOP coalition he’s building.

“My personal preference is to ban these deadly devices,” he said.

"It's time for Members of Congress to find the courage to come together and finally do something to help stop the epidemic of mass shootings,” Moulton said in a press release Thursday.

"It is our responsibility to protect the American people. Thoughts and prayers are not enough. I am proud to be leading this bipartisan effort to take action to keep our communities safe."

Republican House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin opened the door Thursday to considering legislative restrictions on bump stocks, saying, “Clearly that’s something we need to look into.”

Ryan, whose love of hunting is well known, said he did not know what a bump stock was until the massacre Sunday in Las Vegas.

But, he said, “we’re quickly coming up to speed with what this is.”

Momentum for slapping regulations on bump stocks is also building among Republicans on the Senate side.

Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley has expressed interest in holding a hearing on the devices.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas indicated he might consider a bill from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California banning bump stocks.

“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 and that’s another reason to have a hearing,” Cornyn said.

Other GOP senators said Wednesday their staffs are researching bump stocks and curbing their sale.

“I’m interested in finding out more about bump stocks, and I’ve got my staff looking into that,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said. “I know there are other members interested in finding out more about it as well.”

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.