The NRA has admitted to using distraction and stall techniques to block movement on bump stocks legislation in Congress in the wake of the largest mass shooting in modern American history – a tried-and-true tactic for the gun lobby.
In a revealing new interview, the NRA’s chief lobbyist, Chris Cox, came clean on the gun lobby’s tactics. Yes, legislators were horrified in the wake of Las Vegas. Yes, Cox reveals, there were enough votes for a bipartisan bill to prohibit bump stocks – H.R. 3999, a bill introduced by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Seth Moulton (D-MA). So the NRA stepped in and issued a statement calling for the ATF to “review” bump stocks.
In the interview, Cox claims that the day before the NRA issued its bump stock statement, “there were enough votes in the House of Representatives, the Republican pro-gun House of Representatives, to pass a Feinstein-Curbelo type of bill.” So the NRA intervened with its statement to stall bipartisan action.
Now NRA leaders are claiming victory. The dangerous bump stock loophole is now theirs – the NRA owns it. Congress was prepared to act in a bipartisan fashion but the gun lobby knows that when both parties agree, their agenda stands in peril.
The Las Vegas mass shooting exposed a clear and present danger in our gun laws – manufacturers are exploiting a loophole in federal law, making devices that allow rifles to mimic machine guns. Armed with several of these devices, the Las Vegas gunman was able to kill and injure concertgoers in record numbers.
In the following days, lawmakers from both parties expressed horror that these devices were on the market – since federal law has been constructed since the 1930s to ensure that machine guns are heavily regulated and don’t fall into the wrong hands. Faced with actual momentum, the NRA pivoted and distracted. The gun lobby punted to the ATF and asked the agency to reconsider whether bump stocks were addressed under current law. That gave lawmakers the cover they needed to express concern about bump stocks without actually doing anything about them.
This was obviously a sideshow. The ATF reportedly told legislators in a private briefing that the current law doesn’t cover these devices, and that legislation was needed to make a change. In fact, Rep. Massie (R-KY), chairman of the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus, confirmed that was the case: The bump stock loophole can be closed only by Congress.
Of course, the NRA makes it its business to stand in the way of life-saving gun violence prevention legislation. And when there is real bipartisan agreement, you can see the NRA spring into action to scuttle progress.
If they can get bump stocks off the table, the NRA can focus on its real agenda: Weakening existing gun laws by making it easier for dangerous people to buy silencers and carry hidden, loaded guns across state lines.
Friendly reminder: the NRA spent $50 million last year to elect Donald Trump and NRA allies in Congress, in an effort to gut silencer safety laws and pass “Concealed Carry Reciprocity,” legislation that would override state’s gun laws and make our communities less safe.
However, it’s becoming clear that the American people and our elected officials are starting to catch on to the gun lobby’s stalling tactics. If you’d like to learn more about bump stocks, silencers or concealed carry reciprocity, please don’t hesitate to reach out.