Senate GOP blocks Democratic effort to ban bump stocks after Supreme Court ruling

Senate GOP blocks Democratic effort to ban bump stocks after Supreme Court ruling

Senate Republicans on Tuesday blocked an effort by Democrats to pass a ban on bump stocks in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning a Trump-era federal prohibition on the devices.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), the author of the BUMP Act, brought his proposal up for unanimous consent, but Sen. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) blocked it.

The move came days after the court overturned a policy enacted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2018 after a mass shooting in Las Vegas killed 60 people and wounded hundreds. The shooter used guns equipped with bump stocks, which allow semiautomatic weapons to fire off hundreds of rounds per minute.

“Welcome to another day in the Democrat summer of show votes,” Ricketts said Tuesday, likening the move by Democrats to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) decision to hold votes on reproductive rights in recent weeks.

Ricketts also said the Supreme Court ruled correctly last week.

“This bill may be called the BUMP Act, but it’s not really about bump stocks,” Ricketts said. “This bill is about banning as many firearm accessories as possible and giving ATF broad authority to ban most semiautomatic firearms.”

Heinrich, who rolled out the bill a year ago alongside Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), tore into the idea that bump stocks will once again be available.

“There is no legitimate use for a bump stock. Not for self-defense. Not for law enforcement. Not even in military applications as they are less accurate than a standard fully automatic military platform,” Heinrich said. “What they are tailor-made for is a mass shooting.”

Where the legislative effort goes from here, though, is unclear.

Schumer declined to say whether he would bring it up for a full vote on the floor, saying only that he hoped Republicans would “see the light” and not block Heinrich’s bill.

“Donald Trump is hardly a friend of gun safety, but I’m just shocked that the Supreme Court would be even to the right of him,” Schumer said in floor remarks earlier in the day. “If Republicans get in the way today, if they decide to side with the gun lobby instead of parents and teachers and law enforcement, they are asking for another tragedy to strike sooner or later.”

In a concurring decision last week, Justice Samuel Alito suggested that congressional action is a “simple remedy” for this issue, yet that appears unlikely at this point.

A number of members said Monday that they did not see a pathway for a bipartisan item to emerge given the winds of election season.

Heinrich, however, was quick to note that the upper chamber acted two years ago in the wake of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. That resulted in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which is the most notable gun safety legislation to become law in nearly three decades.

“There’s some skepticism out there about whether Congress can get this done — about whether all of us coming together to ban bump stocks is impossible. But just two years ago, we proved that type of thinking is flat wrong,” he said. “By passing [the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act], we proved that Congress can take concrete action to protect our communities from gun violence. Now it’s time we take similar bipartisan action to ban bump stocks.”

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