The National Rifle Association, in its first statement on the Las Vegas shooting and in a rare break from its traditional opposition to gun-related regulations, called Thursday for a federal review of so-called "bump stocks" and suggested new rules might be needed for the device apparently used by the shooter in Sunday’s massacre.
“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” the NRA said in a written statement.
"Bump stocks" can be used to effectively convert semi-automatic rifles to fire so rapidly as to simulate an automatic weapon. The devices were found on guns used by Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, who killed 59 and injured hundreds Sunday night.
The Obama administration’s ATF gave its seal of approval to selling the devices in 2010 after concluding that they did not violate federal law. On Thursday, the NRA called on the ATF to review that assessment.
“In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved,” the NRA said. “Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.”
When asked about a possible ban on "bump stocks," President Donald Trump told reporters, "we are looking into that over the next short period of time."
The NRA had remained largely silent since the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. In its written statement Thursday, the powerful gun lobby made clear its general position that gun control is not the answer to such tragedies:
"In the aftermath of the evil and senseless attack in Las Vegas, the American people are looking for answers as to how future tragedies can be prevented. Unfortunately, the first response from some politicians has been to call for more gun control. Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks.”
But the call to reconsider rules for bump stocks comes as lawmakers from both parties gear up to consider legislation on the matter.
Fox News has learned that Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., is writing a bipartisan bill to ban bump stocks.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., in an interview with Hugh Hewitt, also opened the door to looking at the issue.
And White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway, speaking Thursday on “Fox & Friends,” indicated a willingness to consider restrictions.
“We always welcome a thoughtful conversation on policy and issues. The Second Amendment is a bedrock in our Constitution along with the First Amendment. These rights must be protected,” she said. “But … I know this is something that many legislators have been telling us and I read publicly that they have never even heard of the device before. And they are in Congress. So, many of them are open to a conversation.”
Bump stocks are legal and originally were intended to help people with limited hand mobility fire a semi-automatic without the individual trigger pulls required. They can fit over the rear shoulder-stock assembly on an automatic rifle and with applied pressure cause the weapon to fire continuously, increasing the rate from between 45 and 60 rounds per minute to between 400 and 800 rounds per minute, according to California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office.
Feinstein, a prominent advocate for gun control, already has legislation to ban bump stocks.
Retailers and manufacturers are seeing an apparent surge in interest in so-called bump stocks as Congress eyes a possible crackdown. Slide Fire, which makes bump stocks, announced on its website it is suspending new orders, with a message indicating the company’s supply is low. Another site that sells the company’s products said in a message online that the device is “out of stock” and backordered.
Even the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, opened the door to new restrictions.
"If somebody can essentially convert a semi-automatic weapon by buying one of these and utilizing it and cause the kind of mayhem and mass casualties that we saw in Las Vegas, that's something of obvious concern that we ought to explore," Cornyn told reporters.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.