Amid calls from anti-gun groups across the spectrum to act in the wake of a mass shooting, Democrats in Washington want to scuttle a sportsmen’s package that includes easing suppressor laws for starters.
The day following a mass killing that claimed the lives of at least 59 people in Las Vegas at the Route 91 Harvest festival near Mandalay Bay casino, Democrats of all stripes went on the offensive against the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, or SHARE Act, an omnibus package of pro-gun bills that has drawn heat over its language to remove suppressors from National Firearms Act control.
Former Secretary of State and frequent Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton blasted the SHARE Act as part of her social media response to the shooting on Monday arguing the use of a suppressor would have made the attack worse, a somewhat specious comment due to the fact the shooter is believed to have used high-velocity rifles, which would still have generated a supersonic “crack” due to their ammunition, even had the firearms been suppressed.
“The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots,” said Clinton. “Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.”
Minnesota Democrat U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, citing failed gun control pushes last session in the wake of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, also spoke directly against the SHARE Act package.
“Not only are these bills completely out of touch, they would make it more difficult to know where gunshots are being fired and put law enforcement officers in danger,” she said.
The comments by Clinton and Pingree came as U.S. Reps. John Conyers and Raúl Grijalva, the ranking Dems on the House Judiciary and Natural Resources committees respectively, wrote Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan asking that he remove the SHARE Act from the chamber’s calendar. Grijalva had voted against the measure last month while Conyers unsuccessfully fought to hold further hearings on it in his Republican-controlled committee.
Citing GOP sources, Politico and BuzzFeed both held the bill, which had widely been expected to see a floor vote as soon as this week, may be sidelined due to the optics in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting.
Assault weapons, background checks, and other proposals
In addition to the campaign against suppressor deregulation, national gun control groups including Everytown, Moms Demand Action and Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions organization called for action on addressing gun violence, without advancing which proposals they immediately endorsed.
The Brady Campaign stressed their continued drive to urge lawmakers to expand background checks to all gun sales and transfers.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi wrote Speaker Paul Ryan recommending he move to allow a Select Committee on Gun Violence with a mandate to study the issue and make recommendations to Congress. In her one-page letter, she urged a vote to pass the King-Thompson Act, which seeks the type of expanded background checks advocated by the Brady group, calling such as move simply “a first step.”
The Newtown Action Alliance and 100 small niche gun control organizations called for a renewal and expansion of the federal assault weapon ban arguing that “Assault weapons do not belong in our streets or in our homes.”
Bringing the ban, which sunsetted in 2004 after a decade of controversial use, back to life was strongly endorsed by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey of New York as well as Wisconsin Democrat Mark Pocan who said, “For too long, Congress has rolled over when confronted by the NRA and the gun lobby and it’s time to finally take a stand.”
In California, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has backed gun control legislation and voter referendum regulating both firearms and ammunition, decried the violence in Las Vegas while taking the opportunity to urge lawmakers to look towards his state’s laws for examples to “chart the path of rationality.”
Media outlets quickly editorialized the call for increased firearms regulation, with Bustle posting resources to contact Congress while The Baltimore Sun said: “don’t tell Americans gun control is off the table.” Similar op-eds ran in GQ, the Huffington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. The theme continued into late night talk shows on Monday evening.
Meanwhile, an online Credo Action petition garnered 153,000 signatures in one day urging lawmakers to not only scuttle the SHARE Act but also national concealed carry reciprocity while moving to “ban weapons of war, including assault weapons and large capacity magazines.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday said it was too soon to begin a debate on gun control, saying it “would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don’t fully know all the facts or what took place last night.”
Steven Billet, director of the Legislative Affairs Program at the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, speculated that, while new gun control measures may be proposed and old ones rebooted, the likelihood of any passing into law in the current political landscape is slim.