Senior Republicans in Congress – who have long resisted any gun controls – have indicated they are open to banning the device that may have enabled the Las Vegas gunman to turn a mass shooting into a massacre.
Police say they found so-called “bump-stocks” in Stephen Paddock’s hotel room: legal but controversial accessories that increase the rate of fire, effectively transforming a rifle into a fully automatic weapon.
Californian Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced legislation, backed by around two dozen colleagues, to ban bump-stocks – a move she tried in 2013, which failed.
Even some politicians who support gun ownership say Congress may need to act on these conversion kits.
“I own a lot of guns, and as a hunter and sportsman, I think that’s our right as Americans, but I don’t understand the use of this bump stock,” said Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas. “It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on.”
Bump-stock modifications were found on several of the 23 guns discovered in the gunman’s room at the Mandalay Bay hotel. It’s thought the bump-stocks made the Las Vegas gunman even more lethal: analysis has shown he was able to fire dozens of rounds in a few seconds. Paddock shot more than 500 people in a ten-minute spree, killing 58.
In the wake of the atrocity, Democratic calls for gun control were led by former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, seriously wounded in an assassination attempt six years ago.
“Now is the time to come together, be responsible – Democrats, Republicans – everyone. We must never stop fighting – fight, fight, fight!” she said to applause on the steps outside Congress.
But despite the statements from some Republicans, restrictions are far from certain. The powerful National Rifle Association could block any action; another gun rights group has vowed to do so.
In Las Vegas itself gun culture is part of the landscape.
Some people in the city said they support controls – but others highlight in this case hotel security or checks on individuals.
Earlier this year President Trump signed a bill blocking an Obama-era rule preventing mentally ill people from owning a gun.