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GOP Congressman: Bump Stocks Should be Banned Regardless of ATF Assessment

Shooting instructor Frankie McRae aims an AR-15 rifle fitted with a "bump stock" at his 37 PSR Gun Club in Bunnlevel, N.C., on Oct. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

WASHINGTON – Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said the bump stocks that the Las Vegas gunman used to fire his rifle faster should be banned even if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) determines that they do not “violate the spirit” of existing law, the course of action sought by the National Rifle Association over legislative remedies.

ISIS has claimed multiple times since Sunday’s mass shooting that Stephen Paddock was acting on behalf of the terrorist group. Las Vegas police said Friday they had “no evidence” he had political or “radical ideologies” that motivated the attack.

“Is it still open that he could have been radicalized?” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) was asked Thursday on Capitol Hill. “Based on the evidence they currently have that’s not their assessment, but they haven’t looked at all the evidence yet so you can’t completely close the door on that.”

McCaul confirmed that ISIS typically does not claim a link to an attack that has turned out to be false.

“They did three times in this case,” McCaul pointed out, before ISIS claimed the attack a fourth time in a newsletter released Thursday.

McCaul was asked if he thinks Congress should ban “bump stocks,” which Paddock used to make rifles fire rapidly like an automatic weapon.

“We’re studying the issue. My understanding is it was exempted from the federal firearm statue in 2010, which would have been under Obama, and so there’s some discussion as to whether this could be handled administratively or whether Congress should be voting on it to put it back under the federal firearms,” he said. “Because you are converting an legal weapon into an illegal weapon, fully automatic.”

“So the issue would be, would it require a license? If you bought one, you would have to get a license to do it,” he added.

Many Democrats are calling for universal background checks on all gun sales, including gun shows and private transfers. McCaul said a change in the law on background checks would not have prevented the Las Vegas tragedy.

“I mean, I used to prosecute gun cases and the majority of gun cases I had, they were stolen,” he said. “And in this case the guy, I mean, the Bureau has run checks on him, they can’t find anything on him, so yeah, he passed a background check and that would not have stopped this from happening.”

McCaul also said he would like to see President Trump weigh in on the bump stocks issue since it would encourage the GOP to further examine the matter.

“It would be positive,” he said.

Kinzinger told reporters on Capitol Hill that lawmakers are asking the ATF to examine the issue.

“Does it violate the spirit of the law? If they come back and say no, it’s still good to go then there’s, I think, a legislative solution to this,” he said.

When asked if bump stocks should be banned, he replied, “It will be up to the ATF to determine that but, yes, if they come back and say this does not violate the spirit of the law, which I think would be a very tough thing to say, I think we’ll absolutely need to take action on it.”

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he supports banning bump stocks and that he supported the federal assault weapons ban in 1994. He doubts that Congress would be able to pass a similar ban today.

“I don’t see the votes for it at all. I’m supporting background checks on gun sales at gun shows,” he told PJM. “I support gun regulation legislation. I’m one of the few Republicans who does. Having said that, I don’t think anything that’s been proposed so far would have had any impact on what happened in Las Vegas.”