Too afraid to ask: What’s happening with gun legislation?

    In the wake of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas mass shooting, more people from both sides of the aisle are coming out in support of stricter gun laws. Reports that gunman Stephen Paddock had used an attachment called a bump stock brought such attachments into a national conversation, and acted as the impetus for the introduction of varied versions of bills that ban bump stocks. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican, and Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts Democrat, along with Reps. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, and Dina Titus, a Nevada Democrat, proposed legislation to ban bump stocks in response to the Las Vegas shooting.

    Background on gun terms:

    Due to how vital the distinction between different types of guns and devices on guns can be to current legislation, here are some helpful definitions from The New York Times:

    Semiautomatic gun: Fires a single round per pull of the trigger and automatically reloads

    Fully automatic gun: Fires multiple bullets with a single pull of the trigger

    “Bump” stock: This replacement “stock” lets the rifle body slide between shoulder and trigger finger, catching the trigger on each rebound. It allows a shooter to fire hundreds of rounds per minute. A bump stock allows semi automatic guns can be modified to “closely mimic” the rate of fire of a fully automatic gun.

    Background on important gun legislation:


    On June 12, President Obama called on Congress to enact or renew a law that prohibited the sale and possession of assault-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines following the Pulse nightclub shooting.


    In September, the SHARE Act was introduced. It expands access to public land for recreational shooting, fishing and hunting. It reduces federal restrictions on purchasing firearm silencers.

    On Oct. 5, the Background Check Completion Act was introduced. It closes a loophole in the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act that allows a gun sale to proceed even if a background check has not been completed after 72 hours. The Act would prohibit firearms dealers from selling a firearm prior to the completion of a background check.

    Bump Stock Bills Proposed After the Las Vegas Shooting:

    How does Curbelo and Moutlon's bump stock ban work?

    This version of the bump stock ban would effectively amend Title 18 of the United States Code to include the prohibition of any process regarding bump stock and similar devices, whether that be manufacturing, possessing or transferring “any part or combination of parts that is designed and functions to increase the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but does not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun, and for other purposes.”

    The bill would also call for a review of sentencing guidelines to enhance penalties for people who violate a bump stock ban in relation to violent crime or drug trafficking. These enhanced penalties could apply to anyone who smuggles bump stocks illegally to or from the United States. Violations under this bill could result in fines, five years in prison or both. The bill would take effect 90 days after its enactment.

    How does Cicilline and Titus' bill, the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act, work?

    This version of the bump stock ban proposed in Reps. Cicilline and Titus’ bill is fairly similar to Reps. Curbelo and Moulton’s bill in that it bans importing, selling, manufacturing, transferring and possessing bump stocks or similar devices. The bill would punish bump stock users with 10 years in prison.

    It varies however, in two other ways. First, it explicitly states that the amendment does not apply if the device in question is under the authority of the United States or any of its agencies and departments. Second, though both bills ban any device that increases the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle without converting it into a machinegun, Cicilline and Titus’ bill also explicitly bans the use of “trigger crank[s]” and “bump-fire device[s].”

    The bill would take effect 180 days after the enactment of the bill.

    Did the NRA express support for the bump stock ban?

    The NRA has expressed that while they do not entirely reject the bump stock ban, they want it to result in regulatory restrictions and not a total legislative ban.

    Will the bump stock ban succeed?

    While the bump stock ban garnered support in the days following the Las Vegas shooting, the legislation has not progressed much since then, and the possibility remains that it might not progress any further.


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