Even in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, Republicans refuse to wake up to reality. They probably never will, considering they are pushing bills that will make it easier for men like Stephen Paddock to commit acts of terrorism, even after this latest tragedy.
Two highly controversial bills are making their way through the GOP-led Congress, and, according to some Democrats, are expected to pass.
The first bill, the Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, a broad-ranging piece of legislation, contains a provision called the Hearing Protection Act that aims to roll back the decades-old restriction on obtaining gun silencers.
Opponents of the bill say silencers — called noise suppressors by gun rights advocates — would not just make it harder for police to locate the shooter in an attack but would make it harder for victims to escape gunfire if they can't figure out where it was coming from.
The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 2, 2017
Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get.
“Imagine how much worse last night’s shooting could’ve been if the gunman had a silencer. Imagine the confusion for first responders if they arrived on the scene to a bunch of civilians wielding their own guns, attempting to return fire,” Mark Kelly said in opposition of the bill. Kelly is married to former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in a mass shooting.
“What it does is it disperses the sound, so you can’t identify where the sound is coming from,” said Rep. Mike Thompson, (D-WA), a hunter who opposes the bill. “It puts both law enforcement and the public at risk.”
A number of city police chiefs have signed a letter of opposition stating the main market for silencers now is “military tactical teams who use silencers to confuse the sound of gunfire and confound an enemy’s response to surprise attack.”
However, Republicans argue the provision only calls for diminishing the sound of gunfire, not silence it altogether, to shield hunters from hearing damage.
“It isn’t a silencer because it still makes sound, but what it does is cuts the percentage of the noise down to make shooting sports a little nicer for people’s hearing,” said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, (R-WA).
Those sports-loving people should consider wearing protective earwear if they are concerned about ear damage.
The National Rifle Association said similar versions of the bills have passed before but this one was the “most ambitious” one yet, partly because of the silencer provision.
The bill is being strongly supported by Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, who appeared in a video boasting about hearing safety and encouraging people to get their “little kids into the game” because the device reduces gun recoil.
Another provision tucked into the bill, which is intended to loosen hunting restriction, is to legalize armor-piercing bullets as long as they are marketed for “sporting purposes.” As if that would deter would-be mass shooters from buying them. Also, game animals don’t wear armor, so what is the need for such ammunition?
Republicans are advertising the bills “under a facade of, ‘It’s for hunters,’” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said. “Hunters need armor-piercing bullets? They need silencers? They need to conceal and carry to hunt?”
Although the SHARE Act is terrifying enough, there is another measure that may be even worse: allowing gun owners from concealed-carry states to bring their weapons into states that forbid concealed-carry, thereby undermining regulations that require applicants to have permits and undergo background checks. That means a person from Nevada (which does not require a permit to carry a concealed firearm) can bring his guns to New York (which requires background checks and a permit) with impunity.
Pelosi said Republicans have the votes to pass both the bills, however, there is little chance they will be able to get the support of eight Democrats in the Senate to become law. Yet, both these pieces of legislation show the GOP fully intends to further deregulate firearms despite the increasing gun violence and the inability of the government to control it.
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Chris Wattie