Following Las Vegas Massacre, NRA Says 'Banning Guns From Law-Abiding Americans' Not the Answer

NRA, 2017
 Mark Wilson/Getty Images


Powerful gun lobby seems open to "additional regulations" on "bump stock" devices to modify semi-automatic weapons.

Four days after a crazed gunman killed 58 and injured more than 500 at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night, the National Rifle Association issued its first statement on the incident. The powerful lobbying group that has spent tens of millions of dollars over the years to sway lawmakers away from issuing any new gun control regulations joined the chorus of conservative politicians who have argued that now is not the time to talk about changing the nation's gun laws.

"In the aftermath of the evil and senseless attack in Las Vegas, the American people are looking for answers as to how future tragedies can be prevented. Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control," read the statement from NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and executive director Chris Cox in reaction to the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. "Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks. This is a fact that has been proven time and again in countries across the world."

Reacting to reports that the shooter used legal so-called "bump-stock" after-market devices that allow a semi-automatic weapon to fire more rapidly to mimic the action of a fully-automatic weapon, LaPierre and Cox pointed out that bump stocks were approved on "at least two occasions" by the Obama administration. In an appearance on CNN Thursday morning (Oct. 5) White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also blamed the ATF under Obama for not regulating bump stocks further.

According to CNN, because the bump stock is not a firearm, the ATF classified it as a firearm part, writing in a letter at the time that it approved the device's sale because it didn't have jurisdiction over regulating firearm parts under the Gun Control Act or National Firearms Act. Investigators found a dozen bumps stocks in shooter Stephen Paddock's Las Vegas hotel room along with more than two dozen rifles and huge cache of ammunition.

Though the majority of Republican lawmakers have refused to discuss the possibility of passing any new gun legislation, several have siezed on the possibility of regulating these after-market devices as a response to the Las Vegas massacre. LaPierre, typically averse to any change in gun regulations, wrote, "The National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law. The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations."

While the statement did not call for the banning of bump stocks, it did urge Congress to pass National Right-to-Carry reciprocity that would allow gun owners to travel from state-to-state with concealed weapons even when they're going to states with laws that restrict concealed carry.

Fully automatic machine guns that fire continuously with one press of the trigger have been illegal since the mid-1980s. According to NBC News, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Thursday shortly after the NRA issued its statement that President Donald Trump is aware that Congress intends to look at bump stocks. "We'd like to be part of that conversation," she said. "We're open to that moving forward."

When asked about possible new gun legislation while visiting victims and first responders on Wednesday in Las Vegas, Trump responded, "we're not going to talk about that today... we won't talk about that."

Earlier this week the GOP-led House was still considering debate on NRA-backed legislation that would roll-back gun laws, including one that would make it easier to buy silencers on the premise that they can prevent hearing damage among hunters. In the wake of Las Vegas, though, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday that there are no current plans to bring that legislation to a vote.