Tags: Gun Control | Gun Rights | Las Vegas Shooting | Trump Administration | silencers | congress | legislation

Las Vegas Massacre Sparks Debate Over Silencers

Las Vegas Massacre Sparks Debate Over Silencers
(Lisa Marie Pane/AP)

By    |   Monday, 02 October 2017 07:14 PM

Despite pleas by the White House not to politicize the mass-shooting massacre in Las Vegas, a fierce struggle erupted Monday over a House bill that would make it easier for gun owners to obtain silencers.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Monday called the massacre at a country music festival that left 59 dead and at least 515 injured an "unspeakable tragedy."

Asked by a reporter to discuss President Trump's position on gun control in light of the incident, Sanders replied: "Today is a day for consoling the survivors and mourning those we lost. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with all of those individuals."

Noting that law officers have yet to determine a motive for the shooting, she added: "It would be premature for us to discuss policy when we don't yet fully know all the facts or what took place last night."

But gun-regulation proponents quickly pounced on the Las Vegas shootings to criticize provisions in the Sportsman's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement [SHARE] Act, a bill that advanced out of committee last month on a party line vote.

Democratic 2016 standard-bearer Hillary Clinton tweeted: "The crowd [in Las Vegas] fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer."

In videos of the shooting, the rat-tat-tat of machine gun fire could be heard over the singing of country star Jason Aldean, who was performing on stage when the gunman opened fire. Audience members quickly began to run for cover.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a strident gun-law proponent ever since the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shootings that killed 20 children, blasted his colleagues for being afraid of "the gun industry."

He tweeted Monday, "To my colleagues: Your cowardice to act cannot be whitewashed by thoughts and prayers. None of this ends unless we do something to stop it."

Currently, to purchase a silencer – a device many pro-gun activists prefer to call a "suppressor" – gun owners must obtain a special federal registration and license and buy a $200 tax stamp. The NRA-backed legislation now before Congress would eliminate those restrictions.

A hearing on the SHARE bill was initially scheduled for June 14. But the bill was postponed after the shooting at a congressional baseball practice that critically wounded House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

Scalise returned to the House chambers for the first time just last Thursday, proclaiming himself "definitely a living example that miracles really do happen."

The NRA's legislative arm wrote in September: "America's gun owners have been waiting for many years for Congress to send the SHARE Act to the president's desk. Their patience may now be rewarded with the strongest, most far-reaching version of the Act yet."

The bill was expected to come up for a vote later this week, but that could change with the nation's attention focused on the tragedy in Las Vegas.

Democrats are expected to try to block the measure. After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Democratic Senators held a 15-hour filibuster, and Democrats in the House staged a sit-in.

Several conservative commentators retorted Clinton's remarks reflect an ignorance about how much noise the devices can actually suppress.

CIA veteran and radio host Buck Sexton, for example, called the remarks "appallingly stupid, and entirely irrelevant," adding, "She knows nothing about firearms, and even worse, she doesn't care."

Second Amendment defenders and many gun lovers say silencers help protect the hearing of firearm enthusiasts. While hunters can always use muffs or ear plugs, the reduced hearing is a serious safety issue when hunting, they say.

Adding to the left's frustration is last week's federal appeals court ruling, which upheld another court's ruling tossing out a Washington, D.C., law that requires gun owners to demonstrate a "good reason" for carrying a concealed weapon. The District is expected to appeal that decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Congress has "a moral duty" to approve new gun-control measures following the mass shooting in Las Vegas, including expanded background checks. But it is considered highly unlikely Trump would sign such a bill.

The NRA donated over $30 million to support his campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org. In speaking at the NRA's national convention in April, Trump declared: "The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end."

Police have yet to indicate why they think suspected shooter Stephen Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada, opened fire on concert-goers at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival. The massacre is now classified as the worst mass-shooting incident in U.S. history, surpassing the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando that occurred only last June. That incident claimed 49 lives.

Trump's press secretary pushed back Monday on the media's efforts to engage in a policy discussion on the issue.

"There's a time and place for a political debate," Sanders remarked. "But now is the time to unite as a country."

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Despite pleas by the White House not to politicize the mass-shooting massacre in Las Vegas, a fierce struggle erupted Monday over a House bill that would make it easier for gun owners to obtain silencers.
silencers, congress, legislation, nra
Monday, 02 October 2017 07:14 PM
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