The National Rifle Association called for federal regulators to conduct an immediate review of gun accessories design to mimic full-auto firing, according a statement issued Thursday by the group’s leaders Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox.
“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” the statement says, adding the ATF should “immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.”
The items in question, bump fire stocks, became the subject of debate after a gunman equipped a dozen or so rifles with such a device and opened fire into a crowd of some 22,000 concertgoers on Sunday night in Las Vegas. He killed 58 people and injured almost 500 others.
While Democrats renewed calls for gun control measures in the wake of the shooting, attitudes largely followed party lines. Then, on Wednesday night, Republicans joined to voice possible support for proposals to ban bump fire stocks.
House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, said he was open to a vote on bump stocks in an interview Thursday.
“Fully automatic weapons have been banned for a long time, apparently this allows you to take a semi-automatic and turn it into a fully automatic, so clearly that’s something we need to look into,” Ryan said, but added he would not consider the “Australian” option.
Other gun groups, like Gun Owners of America, which expresses more absolutist views than the NRA, have opposed such measures. Like the NRA, GOA points to the 2010 approval of bump fire stocks by ATF officials. “Any type of ban will be ignored by criminals and only serve to disarm honest citizens,” said Erich Pratt, GOA executive director, in a statement.
Political opponents, like Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, criticized the NRA for supporting a halfhearted measure rather than endorsing a ban on the bump stock.
“The gun lobby has for years boosted devices that effectively convert rifles into machine guns and boasted that you can get away with guns that mimic fully-automatic fire, so it’s hardly a surprise that they’re calling for a review of bump stocks by a friendly regulatory agency rather than legislation from Congress,” said John Feinblatt, Everytown president.
Slide Fire, the company that produces bump fire stocks, received a determination letter in 2010 from the ATF, saying the item was not subject to federal regulations because the stock lacked “automatically functioning mechanical parts or springs.”
Rubbing salt in the wound, major retailers like Walmart and Cabela’s appeared to have stopped selling bump fire stocks.
Congressional leaders had planned a vote this week to address a measure that would ease regulations on silencers, which are governed by the same law that regulates machine guns, but that vote was put on hold.
Article updated at 5:45 pm EST on Oct. 5, 2017