House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Wednesday that the fastest way to curtail the sale of the kind of bump stock add-on that made last week’s Las Vegas shooting so lethal would be for the administration to act.
Mr. Ryan said Congress is still trying to figure out why the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) issued regulations that allowed for the sale of bump stocks.
“We are still trying to assess why the ATF let this go through in the first place,” he said.
A number of members of Congress have pushed for new laws to curtail bump stocks, but Mr. Ryan said the “smartest, quickest” way to slow their sale would be federal regulations.
The shooter in Las Vegas had a dozen bump stocks, which replace traditional rifle stocks, and help simulate an automatic rate of fire on a weapon designed to be semiautomatic.
Automatic rifle sales have been heavily restricted for decades, but the ATF has twice approved sale of bump stocks, including in 2010, ruling that it didn’t have the power to restrict purchases under the law.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and a longtime leader on gun control, said Mr. Ryan was trying to “pass the buck” by blaming the ATF.
She said the agency clearly told Congress in 2013 that it doesn’t have power to get involved, since bump stocks are an accessory, not a firearm, and so they are outside the reach of existing gun laws.
“Legislation is the only answer and Congress shouldn’t attempt to pass the buck,” she said.
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