Advocates, voters, gun-owners and government officials each offered takes on how to address systemic mass violence, sparking yet another round of debate on the Constitution’s Second Amendment. While the many thoughts and prayers offered by lawmakers traversed party lines, actual bill proposals and policy solutions varied wildly, ranging from changing liability law to tightening regulations and even fully repealing the Second Amendment.
A number of bills targeted at what some Senators are calling gun regulation “loopholes” were introduced in the wake of the shooting, including one from U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), according to Murphy’s office. The trio introduced legislation to prohibit gun sales from being completed when background checks take longer than 72 hours.
“This is [a] dangerous loophole that could allow criminals and those with mental illness to complete their purchase of firearms even though it would be unlawful for them to possess them,” Feinstein says. The Senators said this “gap” in the law helped Dylann Roof execute his attack on the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina last year.
“Waiting for a background check, even if longer than 72 hours, is a minor inconvenience far outweighed by the benefit of keeping lethal weapons out of the hands of dangerous people,” said Blumenthal. The trio also teamed up to introduce the Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act, which they say would prohibit bump fire stock modifications that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire at the same rate as fully-automatic weapons.
“Bump fire stocks skirt the law to effectively make a semi-automatic weapon mimic an illegal fully automatic weapon–that’s literally the only reason it exists,” said Murphy. “ … Automatic weapons are outlawed for a reason, and the horror in Las Vegas made clear why. Congress needs to pass this bill ASAP or we will see them seized by even more mass murderers and terrorists.”
The National Rifle Association, ardent supporters of the rights of gun owners, similarly released a statement advocating the review of certain devices used to modify firearms. “The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” said the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre and Chris Cox in a joint statement.
The advocacy group, though, rejected the notion that reducing gun ownership outright would help make Americans safer. Citing an “increasingly dangerous world,” the NRA’s statement called for the “strengthening” of Second Amendment freedoms. “To that end, on behalf of our five million members across the country, we urge Congress to pass National Right-to-Carry reciprocity, which will allow law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families from acts of violence."
That reciprocity would require states to recognize permits granted in other states. Earlier this year, Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08), introduced a bill to allow interstate gun owners the ability to carry their weapons with them from state to state. “Our Second Amendment right doesn’t disappear when we cross state lines, and this legislation guarantees that,” Hudson said. “The Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017 is a common sense solution to a problem too many Americans face.”