Has GOP found a gun restriction it might like?

Several news outlets, including The Washington Post and The New York Times, are leading with this story:

Top House Republicans said they will consider restricting “bump stocks,” the firearm accessory used to accelerate gunfire in the Las Vegas massacre, opening the door to heightened regulation in response to the tragedy.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) both said Thursday that lawmakers will consider further rules for the devices, which allow legal semiautomatic rifles to fire as rapidly as more heavily restricted automatic weapons.

“Clearly that’s something we need to look into,” Ryan said on MSNBC…

Before reading that this morning, I’d heard Tom Cole, a GOP congressman from Oklahoma saying similar things on the radio.

Image from website of Slide Fire, which sells bump stocks.

Image from website of Slide Fire, which sells bump stocks.

Insert joke about temperatures of 31 degrees Fahrenheit being reported in Hades.

A bipartisan move on limiting some way of making it easier to kill lots of people with firearms might feel like progress.

But will it help? I don’t know. Maybe.

An aside… I’m not entirely sure I understand how these “bump stocks” work. It sounds like they harness the recoil to cause the trigger to repeatedly press itself against the shooter’s finger. I think.

Or maybe it magically turns regular ammunition into “automatic rounds,” eh, Bryan?

Meanwhile, I’m puzzling on something that probably only interests me, being a guy who used to spend my days making news play decisions…

If you regularly read British publications (which I do, as I like to know what’s happening in the rest of the Western hemisphere and U.S. outlets don’t tell me), you know that they take a certain view of U.S. news. They have a morbid fascination with what they see as our utter insanity on guns.

Which is why I’m puzzled that, instead of leading with this remarkable bipartisan movement on guns, both the BBC and The Guardian are leading with reports that the Las Vegas shooter may have planned to escape and may have had help. Which is admittedly a strong news development, but still…


16 thoughts on “Has GOP found a gun restriction it might like?

  1. Claus2

    Restricting the use of bump stocks on rifles is equivalent to restricting the use of spinner knobs on vehicle steering wheels.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Yep. Was going to point that out, but I see you noticed. Bump stocks are not a hill that gun owners will fight to keep becuase it’s a mostly meaningless hill.

      Bump stocks are an esoteric accessory that not many regular shooters use. Frankly, most disciplined shooters I know view bump stocks the same way gear-head car guys look at loud exhaust pipes on a car – mostly for showing off. Hey, good for you – you blew through $45 worth of ammo in a few seconds!

      You want to impress a gun guy – shoot well. Demonstrate proficiency in your craft.

  2. bud

    I don’t think anything significant will change with regard to gun deaths in this country until we have a significant cultural change that currently seems unimaginable. But these epiphanies do manifest themselves in American cultural on a regular basis. Many people compare guns to motor vehicles. And while it is true car crashes still kill more people than guns the gap has closed significantly since the early 70s. (1972 was the record year for traffic deaths with 54,589 down to 32,479 by 2011). This is largely the result of a shift of attitude about highway safety issues. Safety belt usage rates are now at around 90%; a figure considered unimaginable in the 70s. Everyone puts their small children in car seats. Vehicles, roads and drivers are now far safer. The result is a drop in the nation’s mileage death rate (per hundred million vehicles miles traveled) from 4.33 in 1972 to 1.08 in 2014 with an uptick to 1.13 in 2015 (35,092 killed).

    While it is true that traffic fatalities and rates have not declined every year there has been a significant trend in the decline. The same pattern seemed to be holding for gun deaths as well but perhaps both have reversed in the last couple of years. Why is that? I would suggest this is due in large part to a shift in the nation’s culture to a more individualistic approach to both driving and shooting. People do not want to be told what to do. Thus we end up with Donald Trump and a near religious like attitude about guns (and apparently toward cars as well).

    Which all seems to fit in with other cultural shifts. Marijuana, inter-racial marriage, gay marriage and smoking prohibitions all are moving toward acceptance. People want their guns and fast cars. And they also want to marry whoever they want but don’t want others intruding on them with smoke in public places. Freedom is not free as the saying goes and as a result gun and car deaths go up. Perhaps going forward we can recognize that an overly broad interpretation of the second amendment is not really in the public’s best interest. But that recognition can only come as a grass roots movement. Our nation’s lawmakers are ultimately limited by public attitude.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      “Our nation’s lawmakers are ultimately limited by public attitude.”

      As is proper in a constitutional republic where the power of government derives from “We the people”. Happy Friday, everyone.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      “I don’t think anything significant will change with regard to gun deaths in this country until we have a significant cultural change that currently seems unimaginable.”

      That’s sort of what David Brooks said this morning. He argued that the gun issue is part of a much larger conflict over values and identity. An excerpt:

      It’s true that individual gun control measures, like banning bump stocks, have popular support, but, over all, the gun rights people are winning the hearts and minds of America. In 2000, according to a Pew survey, only 29 percent of Americans supported more gun rights and 67 percent supported more gun control. By 2016, 52 percent of Americans supported more gun rights and only 46 percent supported more control….

      As Tali Sharot notes in her book “The Influential Mind,” when you present people with evidence that goes against their deeply held beliefs, the evidence doesn’t sway them. Instead, they invent more reasons their prior position was actually correct. The smarter a person is, the greater his or her ability to rationalize and reinterpret discordant information, and the greater the polarizing boomerang effect is likely to be.

      The real reason the gun rights side is winning is postindustrialization. The gun issue has become an epiphenomenon of a much larger conflict over values and identity….

        1. Mark Stewart

          I think he meant the decline of traditional jobs that paid well for hand labor and managerial work are more a thing of the past. And this has lead to a sense of economic and social malaise across a swath of the country. Across the part of white America particularly found of guns.

    3. Brad Warthen Post author

      Speaking of cars…

      One of the biggest shifts in attitudes I’ve seen in my lifetime is the rejection of drunk driving.

      It wasn’t treated as a big thing when I was young. I watched the campaigns — by MADD and others — have a big effect during the ’70s and ’80s, as it came to be treated as a more and more serious crime. And more than that, as socially unacceptable.

      A similar one — and I’m deeply grateful for this one — has been the marginalization of smoking. It’s had a big impact on my life, since inhaling even a little cigarette smoke can kick off an asthma attack.

      It took a LONG time. When I first came to work at The State as governmental affairs editor in 1987, I sat every day at a cluster of connected desks with the other editors who supervised reporters (which I hated on principle — I wanted to sit among the reporters I led, not among a bunch of other editors, but that’s the way it was done here). The metro editor, the state editor and the news editor were all chain-smokers, and I had to spend 8-10 hours a day sitting in the midst of them.

      I had a lot of respiratory trouble that first year. Then, we moved into the new building, and smoking was banned everywhere except in private offices. Eventually, there was no smoking in the building at all.

      It was almost two decades after that before Columbia banned smoking in indoor public venues, which was another step I personally appreciated, because of my kids who worked in restaurants and bars at the time. I used to worry a lot about them breathing all that poison.

      Smoking a cigarette around other humans is a form of physical assault, and I can’t believe it was tolerated as long as it was…

    4. Barry

      don’t think anything significant will change with regard to gun deaths in this country until we have a significant cultural change that currently seems unimaginable.”

      Eventually it will change. More and more Americans are living in urban areas. Hunting and the number of people hunting continues to decline. When I was a kid, 40 million people purchased hunting licenses. That number is now under 13 million and falling.

      We will have some more awful disasters with weapons and innocent citizens in crowded places (someone will want to break the gun death total of Las Vegas and statistics tell us they’ll likely do it soon).

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