Interest in a bill that would ban the sale and use of certain gun accessories came from an unexpected source on Wednesday: GOP U.S. Senator John Cornyn from Texas.
Cornyn, a gun owner who has received $27,750 in donations from the National Rifle Association since 2002, and earlier this week said it was “disgusting” for Democrats to "politicize" the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, didn’t immediately shut down a bill authored by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein to ban the gun accessory used by Stephen Paddock to kill 58 people and injure at least 500 others in Las Vegas. His willingness to consider the legislation could, at the very least, open the door to bipartisan discourse about gun control.
"Bump stocks", the gun attachment at the center of Feinstein’s proposed bill, allow a shooter to fire many more bullets at a much higher speed. Attaching a bump stock to a semi-automatic rifle can basically turn a weapon into an automatic rifle — which are illegal in the United States. Bump stocks, however, are not. Twelve of the rifles found in Paddock’s hotel room had bump stock attachments, according to the New York Times.
“It strikes me as odd that it’s illegal to convert a semi-automatic weapon to an automatic weapon, but apparently these bump stocks are not illegal under the current law,” Cornyn told the BBC. “And I think that’s a legitimate question, that somebody can essentially convert a semi-automatic to an automatic weapon by buying one of these and utilizing it."
While Cornyn isn’t ready to fully back Feinstein’s bill, he did express interest in a hearing for it — which is more than many other GOP lawmakers were willing to say. Feinstein’s bill would ban bump stocks and any other accessories designed for the similar purpose of accelerating the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle.
“As a hunter and sportsman, I think [owning guns is] our right as Americans. But I don’t understand the use of this bump stock. And that’s another reason to have a hearing,” Cornyn said.