It’s a tragedy what is NOT happening since Vegas

The funerals are over, all 58 of them.

But the mourning goes on, as it has since that horrible night and as it will for countless nights to come.

The injured are slowly mending, an eye-popping 540 people.

But for some, they will never fully heal. Even if they do, many will be financially crippled for years to come.

It’s been one month, and that’s where things stand after that night of music and jubilation in Las Vegas was transformed into a nightmare in a matter of a few minutes and many hundreds of bullets.

There’s one more update you need to know about, too:

The Republican majority in Congress has, for all practical purposes, moved on and is letting the tragedy of Las Vegas slip into the dust bin of history.

The massacre is painfully similar to other mass killings in places like the Pulse night club in Orlando, Fla., and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

But the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting has been different in one very significant way:

The National Rifle Association, the powerful defender of the Second Amendment, said there needs to be additional regulation of the “bump stocks” the Las Vegas killer used to essentially turn his semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic weapons and accelerate their rate of fire.

It was the bump stocks that enabled the gunman to lay down the withering barrage that turned the concert grounds into a killing field.

Unlike past mass killings, there appeared to be the makings of bipartisan support to outlaw the manufacture and sale of these devices.

Such a law would not have prevented all of the deaths and injuries in Las Vegas. There’s no one way to eliminate all gun deaths any more than one new safety feature on cars and trucks will eliminate all traffic deaths.

But the casualty numbers in Las Vegas certainly would have been greatly reduced without machine-gun-like fire raining down on concert-goers the way you might expect in a war zone.

It now appears that Congress’ apparent willingness to act with the concurrence of the NRA was all a grand illusion to deceive the public.

Congressional aides and gun control advocates are telling reporters they see no path that leads to lawmakers passing a bump stock bill --- even with 20 sponsors in the House, 10 Republicans and 10 Democrats; even with 39 Democrats sponsoring the bill in the Senate. It’s significant that not one Republican senator is willing to sign on as a sponsor.

There is no indication the House Judiciary Committee is inclined to take up the legislation. In the Senate, such legislation needs to go through the Judiciary Committee, which is chaired by Iowa’s Chuck Grassley.

A spokesman for Grassley told reporters the committee will consider holding a hearing on bump stocks “when more complete facts are available from the investigation” of the Las Vegas shootings. The key words there are “will consider.”

The hold-up in Congress comes down to a disagreement over the direction the federal government’s response to bump stocks should take. Should it be a new law or new regulations?

The NRA and House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, want the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to change gun regulations to address add-ons like bump stocks.

This is a head-turning switcheroo, because Republicans have been trying since President Trump came into office to kill thousands of regulations they consider to be burdensome.

Democrats, on the other hand, have fought to preserve many of those regulations enacted during President Obama’s tenure. But now they prefer to regulate bump stocks with legislative action, not with regulators’ pens.

Democrats know that a court challenge to bump stock restrictions is more likely if the prohibition on the manufacture and sale comes from regulations, rather than a bill approved by the House and Senate and signed into law by the president.

And Republicans know that the legislative path will force them into recorded votes for or against a gun restriction, whereas federal regulations would give them cover if questions arise in the future.

With the passage of time, it becomes more unlikely that Congress will act in response to the Las Vegas tragedy.

We’ve seen this before. After Sandy Hook Elementary School and the deaths of 20 children and six teachers and administrators, 90 percent of Americans supported stronger background checks for gun buyers --- but Congress did nothing.

So, it appears bump stocks are here to stay --- until a majority in the House and Senate decides to listen to common sense and the Americans people.

That they don’t is a tragedy, too.

* * *

Randy Evans is executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and retired opinion editor at the Des Moines Register. He is a native of Bloomfield, Iowa, and now lives in Des Moines.

Go to top