WASHINGTON -- US lawmakers bolstered efforts Thursday to ban devices used by the Las Vegas shooter to make his guns fire faster, while the National Rifle Association unexpectedly urged federal officials to review the legality of such modifications.
The influential pro-gun lobby group broke from its traditional outright opposition to any gun control efforts by calling on the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to consider changing the laws surrounding so-called “bump stocks.”
“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” the NRA said.
The statement is a notable concession by the group, which has vehemently opposed any efforts to tighten gun laws or limit gun owners’ options to modify their weapons, and it could open the door to a broader debate about bump stocks.
But should the ATF modify federal statute to make such devices illegal, the move would circumvent Congress.
As police search for more clues into what drove Stephen Paddock to murder 58 people and wound nearly 500 at a country music concert, President Donald Trump’s White House also announced it was “open” to further debate about the devices.
The spring-loaded mechanism uses a rifle’s recoil to repeatedly and rapidly pull the trigger, allowing the user to fire several hundred rounds per minute.
“Members of both parties and multiple organizations are planning to take a look at bump stocks,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.
“We welcome that and would like to be part of that conversation.”
Chicago, Boston probed
As Congress appeared prepared to at least consider moving forward on the first gun limits in years, it emerged that Paddock may have scoped out other major US cities for possible attacks.
Chicago’s Blackstone hotel said a man by the same name had reserved a room there in August — but never showed — as hundreds of thousands of people were attending the outdoor concert festival Lollapalooza, including Malia Obama, daughter of the former president.
He had also conducted internet searches in Boston, reported the Boston Globe, raising the prospect that Paddock may have been plotting more attacks.