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Senate Republicans block bump-stock ban

REUTERS/GEORGE FREY/FILE PHOTO
                                A bump fire stock that attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firing rate is seen at Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem, Utah, in October 2017. Senate Democrats failed Tuesday to overcome Republican opposition to quick passage of legislation that would outlaw gun bump stocks, falling short in their bid to reverse last week’s Supreme Court ruling invalidating a Trump administration ban on devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.
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REUTERS/GEORGE FREY/FILE PHOTO

A bump fire stock that attaches to a semi-automatic rifle to increase the firing rate is seen at Good Guys Gun Shop in Orem, Utah, in October 2017. Senate Democrats failed Tuesday to overcome Republican opposition to quick passage of legislation that would outlaw gun bump stocks, falling short in their bid to reverse last week’s Supreme Court ruling invalidating a Trump administration ban on devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.

WASHINGTON >> Senate Democrats failed Tuesday to overcome Republican opposition to quick passage of legislation that would outlaw gun bump stocks, falling short in their bid to reverse last week’s Supreme Court ruling invalidating a Trump administration ban on devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly.

Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., sought to win swift approval of the ban after the court found that the restriction — put in place after a bump stock was used in a 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert — was unconstitutional.

A conservative majority on the Supreme Court last week ruled that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had exceeded its authority in prohibiting bump stocks through a federal regulation.

In making his request to take up the legislation, Heinrich noted that the Las Vegas shooter fired more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in 10 minutes using the attachment, which employs a weapon’s recoil to fire faster. The shooting killed 60 people and injured hundreds more.

“There is no legitimate use for a bump stock — not for self-defense, not in a law enforcement context, not even a military application,” Heinrich said. “What they are tailor-made for is a mass shooting.”

Sen. Pete Ricketts, R-Neb., quickly moved to scuttle Heinrich’s legislation, noting that he and other GOP senators had filed a brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn the ban.

“The Supreme Court made the right decision,” said Ricketts, who formally objected to advancing the legislation. He said the bill could prevent use of other firearm accessories that make it easier for some individuals, such as disabled military veterans, to use guns. “We cannot allow unelected bureaucrats at the ATF to abuse their authority to interpret laws in ways Congress clearly never intended,” Ricketts said, referring to the federal regulatory agency.

Other Republicans had made clear they were also prepared to lodge an objection to moving forward with the bill and accused Democrats of orchestrating a political “show vote” since they knew the outcome in advance.

Democrats said they had hoped the fact that the ban was initiated in 2019 during the Trump administration and had the backing of many Republicans at the time would be enough to persuade the GOP to join Democrats in putting it back in place. But they were aware that was unlikely, and said Republicans would pay a political price if they refused to go along.

“I implore — I implore — my Republican colleagues not to stand in the way of today’s bill, because if we can pass it today, we’ll be one step closer to ensuring that a tragedy like what happened in Las Vegas never happens again,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “But if Republicans get in the way today, if they decide to side with the gun lobby instead of parents and teachers and law enforcement, they are asking for another tragedy to strike sooner or later.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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