Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced legislation on Wednesday that would ban bump stocks and other devices that allow semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly, mimicking automatic rifles.
Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old gunman who rained fire from his Las Vegas hotel window onto a country music festival below, reportedly used bump stocks to fire more rapidly into the crowd — killing at least 58 and wounding more than 500 others. (Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg clarified Tuesday that there were at least 58 victims — in previous statements the shooter had been counted among the 59 people who died, the Washington Post and others reported.)
Las Vegas Metro Police undersheriff Kevin McMahill said at a Tuesday news conference that Paddock was able to fire off dozens of bullets in a 9- to 11-minute time frame.
“I want you to think about that,” McMahill said at a news conference. “The first minute the police are aware of shots being fired is 10:08, and it stops at 10:19.”
Feinstein introduced the bill Wednesday, saying the legislation has 26 co-sponsors — all Democrats.
“After Columbine, I thought we would act. After Virginia Tech, I thought we would act. After Tucson, when one of our colleagues was shot in the head and nearly killed, I thought we would act. After Aurora, that horrible thing in the movie theater, I thought we would act. And particularly, after Sandy Hook, when 20 first graders were slaughtered, I thought for sure we would act. After Orlando I thought we would act,” Feinstein said, listing off past mass shootings across the country while announcing her bill. “And now after Las Vegas, I hope Senators will finally summon the political courage to stand up and say, ‘Enough is enough.’”
It’s unclear, however, whether any such legislation could pass.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Congress should hold hearings to determine whether bump stocks should be banned.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich — a top Trump surrogate and supporter — also said bump stocks should be “looked at.”
“If there’s something that makes it easier to convert a semi-automatic into an automatic, then maybe that does have to be looked at,” Gingrich said Wednesday on Fox.
At least one Republican senator cast doubt about whether banning bump stocks would have helped.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) suggested on Tuesday in an interview with NBC’s Hallie Jackson that people have to take their own measures to protect themselves from gunfire.
“I think people are going to have to take steps in their own lives to take precautions to protect themselves,” Thune told Jackson. “And in situations like that, you know, try to stay safe. As somebody said — get small.”
Oct. 4, 2017, 3:29 p.m.: This article has been updated.