Las Vegas Sun

December 15, 2018

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Trump’s executive order banning bump stocks is a positive first step

At long last, a ban on bump stocks is reportedly within days of being announced. That’s worth applauding, especially here in Las Vegas, and President Donald Trump deserves praise for making it happen if it indeed comes to pass.

But the fact that it’s taking executive action to bring about the ban, as opposed to congressional legislation, is enormously frustrating. Congressional Republicans continue to shirk their responsibility to address gun safety, and this is just the latest example.

Let’s be clear: The bump stock ban is just one of many steps needed to curb the epidemic of gun violence in the U.S. And to keep moving in the right direction, Congress needs to be part of the solution.

This year, voters made it clear that they are fed up with inaction by national lawmakers on gun issues, electing candidate after candidate who support responsible, reasonable policies on firearm safety. That includes voters in pro-gun places like Colorado and Georgia, where gun-safety advocates knocked off National Rifle Association-backed candidates in U.S. House races.

In Nevada, voters showed that having a high NRA rating in the state has become political poison for candidates. In replacing Sen. Dean Heller with Rep. Jacky Rosen, electing Democrats to three of the four House districts and sending Democrat Steve Sisolak to the governor’s office over NRA soldier Adam Laxalt, Nevadans virtually screamed for action on guns. Further, they packed both chambers of the Legislature with Democrats who campaigned in support of gun safety.

For Republican extremists on gun policy, public outrage over the horrific mass shootings and daily gun homicides in recent years could be bringing about a time of reckoning.

Another possible indicator: The NRA’s membership plummeted $55 million last year, showing it may be losing support. Although it’s possible that members felt they no longer needed to finance the organization’s lobbying efforts with Republicans in control of the White House and Congress, it’s equally possible that moderates are pulling out over the NRA’s extremism.

Whatever the case, Americans seem to be turning a corner and demanding that lawmakers serve the best interests of the people as opposed to the NRA.

Trump did just that in banning bump stocks. The move cost him some political capital, so it’s to his credit that he did the right thing as opposed to keeping his loyalists happy.

But there’s a lot more work to do, and it needs to happen well beyond the White House.

Decades of GOP lawmakers cowering to the NRA have resulted in weapons with far too much killing power being readily available to civilians. With no training, someone can easily buy a military-style rifle, an unlimited amount of ammunition, a stack of high-capacity magazines to pack it in, and even specialty items like tracer bullets. These weapons were engineered for one purpose — to neutralize military combatants by either killing or maiming them.

In Nevada, even buyers who aren’t old enough to legally drink a beer can get one of these weapons. And if they purchase them from a private seller as opposed to a licensed dealer, they can get them without a background check. For that, the blame lies with Laxalt and other state leaders who failed to work diligently toward implementing the 2016 ballot question that would have established universal background checks.

Heading into the 2019 session of the Nevada Legislature, state lawmakers know that voters expect them to take action to expand background checks and establish other reasonable policies to increase gun safety.

And while the state’s Democratic congressional delegates can’t reasonably be expected to push through federal legislation, given that Republicans still hold the majority in the Senate, they must still try to gain bipartisan support for gun-safety measures.

It’s a relief that bump stocks are finally being recognized as the deadly threat they’ve always been, but now it’s time to keep pushing forward.