House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Sunday that he’s wary of a push for new gun regulations after the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, in which attacker Stephen Paddock had amassed a sizable arsenal before the crime.
Scalise, who was critically wounded in a mass shooting over the summer, told NBC that the right of citizens to bear arms is unlimited, but “let’s go out and enforce those laws” that are already on the books regulating gun ownership.
“Don’t try to put new laws in place that don’t fix these problems; they only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to own a gun,” he said.
Scalise said he hadn’t previously heard of a bump stock, which Paddock used to simulate automatic weapons fire, and noted “there are people who want to rush to judgment, they’ve got a bill written already.”
“Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi already said she wants it to be a slippery slope. She doesn’t want to stop at bump stocks. They want to limit the rights of gun owners,” he said. “It’s a little bit early for people to say they know what to do to fix this problem. I know they’re asking the ATF to go back and review their 2010 decision to authorize it. And I think they should. And they are.”
“A week ago, most people didn’t know what a bump stock was. To think we’re all now experts and know how to write some panacea law, it’s fallacy. Let’s focus on the facts and let’s get the facts and let’s go focus on some of the problems and, frankly, we’ve done some of that already.”
National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said he feared if “we are able to fuzz that line” while banning bump stocks, “all semiautomatics are at risk.”
“I have been arguing with Dianne Feinstein for years, who has been trying to ban semiautos, saying a semiauto, is a semiauto, semiauto. It is not an assault weapon, like you say, Dianne Feinstein, and it is not a machine gun,” he said. “If you fuzz the line, they are all at risk. And we are not going to let that happen… we think ATF ought to do its job, look at this, and draw a bright line.”
LaPierre said he wanted to keep Feinstein from turning “this all into some Christmas tree on the Hill, where she brings all of her anti-gun circus she has been trying to do for years into this.”
“I mean, Dianne Feinstein wants this utopian world without guns. She said, if I could go door to door and pick them all up, I would,” he said. “But the fact is, in that utopian world, what — every time bad happens, evil happens, it is good guys with guns that stop it.”
Feinstein told NBC that “guns have their place,” and “I don’t have a problem if they’re used properly.”
“But what I have seen over the decades is a growth of substantial, improper use of weapons, beginning with the Texas bell tower,” she added, referring to sniper Charles Whitman who killed 17 in the tower shooting at the University of Texas at Austin in 1966.
Of Paddock’s crime, “He has 40 weapons; he has 12 of these bump stocks. They are on the weapons. And he begins to fire a weapon that fires similar to a machine gun out of two broken hotel windows. Every American should look at those pictures and say, do we want more of this? This is one simple thing that stops the making of a semiautomatic weapon into a machine gun.”
Feinstein said the bump stock ban must be “codified by Congress,” because “if it’s a regulatory change, it could be changed any time.”
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) recalled to MSNBC how, growing up in rural Alabama, his father and uncles had guns. “My father had a shotgun that he kept in a corner for hunting. He had a rifle over the door. And he told us as young children, never, ever touch that gun or that rifle. And we never did. We would look at it. But we didn’t put our hands on it,” he said.
“These guns, they’re made to kill. We should make it simple and easier for people to be able to participate in a democratic process. To be able to vote and without going through so many changes,” he said. “But if you’re going to have a gun, we should know something about you. About your background. People who go around engage in domestic violence. A husband beating up the wife or the wife beating up the husband should just go out and get a gun. We should know something about the individuals.”