Republican leads bipartisan House effort to ban ‘bump stocks’

Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represents the Florida Keys area in Congress, wants to ban bump fire stocks (Photo: House Republican Conference)

Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who represents the Florida Keys area in Congress, wants to ban bump fire stocks (Photo: House Republican Conference)

Backers hope co-sponsors will join in supporting the legislation “Noah’s Ark-style,” with each lawmaker bringing another from across the aisle.

Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, joined by U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat, announced their proposal Thursday, which aims to prohibit the manufacture, sale, and use of “bump stocks” which have become a hot-button item after their use in the Route 91 Harvest shooting in Las Vegas where a gunman reportedly had as many as a dozen rifles equipped with the devices.

“For the first time in decades, there is growing bipartisan consensus for firearm reform, a polarizing issue that has deeply divided Republicans and Democrats,” Curbelo, who represents the Florida Keys area in Congress, said in a statement. “Common sense legislation that does not restrict Second Amendment rights is an important first step in addressing gun violence in our country. By banning devices that blatantly circumvent already existing law, we can show that Congress is capable of working constructively to make Americans safer.”

Moulton, Curbelo’s opposite from across the aisle, made headlines earlier this week when he refused to participate in a moment of silence on the House floor for the Las Vegas victims. He argued for action instead.

“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,” said Moulton.

The new proposal would compete with S.1916 and HR 3947, a pair of partisan bills introduced on Wednesday by Democrats banning both bump and slide-fire style stocks as well as “crank triggers” with exceptions for military and law enforcement use.

While the language of the Curbelo-Moulton act is not available, the Democrat proposal seemingly has no provision outlined to grandfather the thousands of stocks and triggers already in circulation.

Several Republicans have voiced support for a ban on the devices while House Majority Leader Paul Ryan said he was open to a vote on the matter.

It’s not just GOP members in Washington looking to outlaw the ATF-approved accessories which until last week were uncontroversial. Republican governors John Kasich of Ohio and Charlie Baker of Massachusetts also came out this week as backing a prohibition on bump fire stocks with Baker going so far as saying he would sign such a bill “tomorrow” if it was sent to him by lawmakers.

However, there at least a few Republicans are non-committal on an outright ban, with Montana’s entire Congressional delegation– including Democrat U.S. Sen. Jon Tester– shying away from the concept as a block at least until they get more information on the subject.

“I think we should hold a hearing on the issue so we can hear from firearms experts, disability advocates, and law enforcement,” said Tester.

Gun rights groups are wandering in the political landscape on a looming prohibition with NRA Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre saying it may be time to “take a look at that and see if it’s in compliance with federal law, and it’s worthy of additional regulation” which some Dems have characterized as a dodge. The more conservative Gun Owners of America, meanwhile, is staunchly against any ban.

The devices are already reportedly illegal in California and New York while Democrats in New Jersey and Washington are backing statewide prohibitions of their own.