Democrats Keep Up Politicization Push on Vegas
Sen. Feinstein derides America as a 'gun-happy country' while pushing for new sales restrictions
Congressional Democrats continued to politicize the Las Vegas shooting and use the tragedy to grandstand on the Sunday-morning talk shows a week later.
The October 1 shooting, which left 58 victims dead and roughly 500 others wounded, was carried out by gunman Stephen Paddock. Although Democrats continued to demand heightened background-check legislation in the shooting’s aftermath, Paddock had passed background checks when he purchased dozens of firearms over the past year.
Although some Republicans have signaled their willingness to back the bump stock ban, the Democrats continued to push their favorite pieces of gun control legislation — even though many of those proposals wouldn't have prevented the Las Vegas massacre from occurring.
"Well, the state is sad. America is a gun-happy country," Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said on NBC News' "Meet the Press." "And I think there are many of us in growing numbers that don't want a gun-happy country."
When "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd asked Feinstein to "give me the slate of laws that if you could wave your wand and have enacted that could have prevented Vegas," the senator from California said "I don't know" exactly what those laws would be.
"I would have to take a good look at that and really study it. I'm not sure there is any set of laws that could have prevented it," Feinstein admitted before continuing to call for more gun control legislation.
Feinstein fielded a similar line of questioning from CBS News' "Face of the Nation" host John Dickerson, who asked her, "Could there have been any law passed that would've stopped [Paddock]?"
"No, he passed background checks registering for handguns and other weapons on multiple occasions," Feinstein replied. "See, I don't know what to make of it. What this event said — this is a well-to-do man, he wasn't mentally ill. He wasn't a criminal, he wasn't a juvenile, he wasn't a gang-banger, and he was able to buy 40 weapons over a period of time, have 12 bump stocks, line them up, break through two windows in his hotel suite, and take aim at tens of thousands."
National Rifle Association (NRA) Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre said on "Face the Nation," the country cannot "let Dianne Feinstein, which is what she wants to do, turn this all into some Christmas tree on the Hill where she brings all her anti-gun circus, she's been trying to do for years, into this."
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" that "one of the traps that the gun lobby wants you to get into is being able to only talk about a legislative intervention that would have addressed the last mass shooting."
"On that day that shooter turned those guns on civilians in Las Vegas, 80 people died in other parts of the country. Many of those deaths could have been prevented by background checks," he said as he pushed for more legislation. "We need to recognize that though these mass shootings are the ones that get all of the attention, there is no other country in the world that has the level of daily ... gun violence that we do."
"And we have a responsibility to address all of that, as well. Now laws, I think, potentially would have dramatically changed what happened in Las Vegas," Murphy added. "We have plenty of data to tell us that in fact if you have tougher gun laws you will have less gun crime."
But "State of the Union" host Jake Tapper pushed back, saying, "But with all due respect, senator, this horrific shooting in Las Vegas, the gentleman passed his background checks. There didn't seem to be any reason to prevent him from purchasing firearms. There were no mental health issues that we've been told about, at least so far, that would have allowed anybody to block him from buying a gun."
"I understand the regulation that you're talking about in terms of bump stocks, but what about the fact that like none of the laws you seem to be talking about would have necessarily prevented this shooter from shooting?" he continued. "It's just that it might have prevented him from shooting as rapid-fire as he did."
Murphy appeared undeterred by this line of questioning as he continued to push for more gun laws and restrictions.
But House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (D-La.), who still is recovering from a gunshot wound he sustained when a man opened fire on congressional Republicans back in June, told Chuck Todd on "Meet the Press" that being shot didn't change his opinions on protecting the Second Amendment from unnecessary restrictions.
"There are already limits on the gun ownership. But frankly, let's go out and enforce those laws. Don't try to put new laws in place that don't fix these problems — they only make it harder for law-abiding citizens to own a gun," Scalise said. "You have laws that are on the books that aren't being enforced. Go out and focus on enforcing those laws."
He noted that "most people, including myself, didn't even know what a bump stock was" just one week ago. Although he didn't oppose legislation banning the use of bump stocks," Scalise warned that "there are people that want to rush to judgment" and take gun control legislation further.
"And I mean, look — Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi already said she wants it to be a slippery slope. She doesn't want to stop at bump stocks. They want to go out and limit the rights of gun owners," he said. "And so I do think it's a little bit early for people to say they know what to do to fix this problem."
"To think that we're all now experts and know how to write some, you know, panacea law — it's fallacy," he continued. "Let's focus on the facts. Let's get the facts, and let's go focus on some of the problems, and frankly we've done some of that already."
NRA Executive Director Chris Cox said on "Fox News Sunday" that "we don't believe bans ever worked on anything" in preventing gun violence.
"What we have said is very clear: If something transforms a semi-automatic to function like a fully automatic, then it should be regulated differently," he said as he called upon the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to review bump stock use.
"It is illegal to convert a semi-automatic to fully automatic," Cox added. "The ATF needs to do their job, review these and if there is [a need for] further regulation, then we will work on further regulation."
LaPierre reiterated Cox's call, saying, “I think you want to tell ATF to do its job. It's an interpretive issue. And they need to get the job done."