Sunday 22 October 2017

Las Vegas shooting: NRA urges new regulations on 'bump stock' devices

The Mandalay Bay resort and casino, right, overlooks an outdoor festival grounds across the street (John Locher/AP)
The Mandalay Bay resort and casino, right, overlooks an outdoor festival grounds across the street (John Locher/AP)

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

The NRA said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives should immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.

The organisation, which holds a powerful sway over members of Congress, dismissed some of the initial response from lawmakers who pressed for more gun control after Stephen Paddock shot dead 58 people attending a music festival.

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

The White House said President Donald Trump welcomed a review of US 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 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.

The NRA announcement followed comments from leading congressional Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan that Congress should take a look at the devices, which were little-known even to gun enthusiasts prior to Sunday's bloodbath.

Mr Trump had reportedly discussed the issue with lawmakers on the way back from visiting Las Vegas on Wednesday.

"Bump stocks" originally were intended to help people with limited hand mobility fire a semi-automatic without the individual trigger pulls required.

They can fit over the rear shoulder-stock assembly on a semi-automatic rifle and with applied pressure cause the weapon to fire continuously, increasing the rate from between 45 and 60 rounds per minute to between 400 and 800 rounds per minute, according to the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein who introduced legislation this week to ban them.

The government gave its seal of approval to selling the devices in 2010 after concluding that they did not violate federal law.

The endorsement from the NRA and congressional Republicans for a change in the law or policy to regulate guns, however narrow, marked a shift in approach.

Inaction has been the norm following other mass shootings, including the Sandy Hook, Connecticut, massacre of schoolchildren five years ago, last year's bloodbath at the Pulse nightclub in Florida, and a baseball field shooting this year in which House Majority Whip Steve Scalise came close to death.

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