In the wake of deadliest shooting in modern US history, GOP pushes bill to deregulate gun silencers

In the wake of deadliest shooting in  modern US history, GOP pushes bill to deregulate gun silencers
A handgun with a silencer Lisa Marie Pane/AP
A handgun with a silencer Lisa Marie Pane/AP

As America mourns the deaths of at least 58 people killed in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, the Republican-controlled congress is set to vote on a bill that would make gun silencers easier to purchase.

On Sunday night, gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire on a music festival in Las Vegas from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel. The death toll from the deadly shooting continues to climb, with over 500 people injured, including several still in critical condition.

Members of congress have taken to social media in an outpouring of support for the victims and their families. But despite a steady stream of “thoughts and prayers,” House Republicans appear to be moving forward with their plan to deregulate the sale of certain firearm accessories.

In June, Republicans added a provision to the the Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, or SHARE Act, that would keep gun silencers from being covered by the 1934 National Firearms Act, making them easier to purchase and destroying the existing federal records of silencer purchases.

Advocates for the bill say that gun silencers help protect firearms owners from hearing damage, while opponents claim that they make it easier for individuals to perpetrate mass shootings and more difficult for police officers to respond to them.

“This provision would profit gun manufacturers while making law enforcement’s job more difficult and potentially making mass shootings even more deadly,” Shannon Watts, founder of the anti-gun-violence group Moms Demand Action wrote in a June statement. “The gun lobby’s bill would benefit gun manufacturers at the expense of public safety.”

Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton alluded to the potential harm the bill could do in a tweet following the Las Vegas shooting. “The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots,” Clinton wrote. “Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.”

The House had scheduled a hearing on the SHARE Act on the same day that Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) and several others were shot while practicing for a congressional baseball game. Though that hearing was delayed, the bill eventually made its way out of committee ahead of a full floor vote scheduled for this week.