Saturday, October 7, 2017
By David Skolnick
Republican lawmakers who represent the Mahoning Valley said they’re willing to look at legislation regulating “bump stocks,” which allowed the shooter in the Las Vegas massacre to effectively convert semiautomatic weapons into automatic weapons.
But GOP lawmakers say they’re not going to take action now.
The mass shooting last Sunday at a country music concert in Las Vegas left 59 dead and hundreds injured when a gunman using bump-stock devices turned legal semiautomatic weapons into automatic weapons and was able to fire as many as 800 rounds in a minute from a high-rise hotel. Bump stocks have been legal since 2010, but possession of fully automatic weapons was banned in 1986 by Congress.
The massacre left Democratic legislators who represent the Valley demanding action.
Also, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, who received about $20,000 from the National Rifle Association between 2002 and 2012 – the sixth most in the Ohio delegation from 1998 to the present, according to The Washington Post – was so frustrated with the gun organization that after the Las Vegas shooting, he donated those contributions to three gun-safety organizations. He split the money evenly among Sandy Hook Promise, Americans for Responsible Solutions and Everytown for Gun Safety.
Michael Zetts, Ryan’s spokesman, said the congressman “broke completely with the NRA after their terrible response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting [Dec. 14, 2012] and their opposition to universal background checks,” though Ryan did not redistribute the funds until this week.
Ryan said he publicly supports a bump-stocks ban as well as universal background checks and other restrictions that he said won’t infringe on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.
“We cannot accept the notion that living in America means living with mass shootings as a common occurrence,” he said.
Ryan added: “In light of the horror of Las Vegas, Congress must raise the standards for anyone wishing to purchase a semiautomatic weapon. ... I am tired of offering up the same condolences again and again while Congress continues to sit on the sidelines. I am ready to have this debate and hopeful that we can vote on gun reform that can keep these types of dangerous firearms off our streets and out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.”
But Republicans, who control the House and the Senate, aren’t prepared to quickly react.
U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, said, “Right now, we need to be supporting the victims and the families of those affected by the tragic events last Sunday in Las Vegas. I am willing to look at legislation related to bump-stock devices, but now is not the time for that conversation. Let’s support the victims and families, and we’ll have that important discussion at an appropriate time.”
Speaking on behalf of U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Cincinnati-area Republican, Emily Benavides, his deputy communications director, said: “The tragedy in Las Vegas was horrific. We will do our due diligence on this legislation and review it.”
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, said, “Every time there’s a mass shooting, my colleagues offer their prayers, and that’s all they do. They need to do more. We need common-sense gun-control laws. A bump-stock ban makes sense. The gun lobby puts out its talking points that now is not the time to talk about it. You talk about it when the public is talking about it. We didn’t wait to take action after 9/11.”