The NRA has been particularly quiet in the days following the deadly Las Vegas shooting that left 58 people dead and hundreds injured.
Its Twitter account hasn’t posted anything since Sept. 29 and the organization has refrained from any public comment. Until now.
In a brief statement issued Thursday, the powerful and vehemently anti-gun control organization surprised many by insisting that “bump stocks,” the devices used to convert semi-automatic weapons to act like even deadlier and illegal automatic ones, should be subject to more regulation.
Silence after a mass shooting is typical for the NRA. Supporting a gun control measure is definitely out of the ordinary — even it is a play to look less like an evil villain as families and friends weep for the fallen. And then just continue to be an evil villain after offering a tiny olive branch that gun control activists say doesn’t do enough.
“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” said NRA executive vice president and CEO Wayne La Pierre and chief lobbyist Chris Cox in a joint statement. The organization laughably blamed the Obama administration for approving the devices for sale on several occasions. (Obama didn’t do much during his first term as far as gun control goes, and even strengthened gun rights a bit, according to PolitiFact, but he campaigned on instituting a federal assault weapons ban for his second term. Sadly, the ban never came to be).
Bump stocks improve a gun’s firing range from 45 to 60 rounds per minute to 400 to 800 rounds per minute for the low price of less than $200, the Guardian reports.
The move is striking, particularly as the NRA lobbied against similar gun control legislation after the Newtown shooting. But it should come viewed through a prism of caution.
Top House Republicans had already indicated they were open to a conversation on restricting bump stocks — something reiterated by White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders in Thursday’s press briefing — and Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill Wednesday again trying to outlaw their sale and possession. Her efforts to pass the bill date back to the days of Sandy Hook. And she couldn’t get that bill out of the Senate due to the NRA working behind the curtain.
Also, the issue of bump stocks, while important, has been viewed by many as a minor concession that helps avoid a broader discussion.
NRA calling for restrictions on “bump stocks”- their compromise to keep public from going after broader gun control. They r a bit worried.
— Genie Stowers (@gstowers835) October 5, 2017
I’m really glad GOP and NRA are behind this, but banning “bump stocks” has got to be the easiest bargaining chip they could possibly cede.
— Travis M (@travis_miller1) October 5, 2017
Also, media, please don’t shower the NRA with praise because they support tighter regulations on bump stocks. That won’t even dent the gun problem this country is facing.
— Carlos (@caguirre94) October 5, 2017
Today was the day the NRA truly became president
— Jesse Singal (@jessesingal) October 5, 2017
And of course, this is the NRA, and the statement also insisted that gun control laws “will do nothing to prevent future attacks” and that proposed legislation allowing Americans to carry their weapons across state lines would “allow law-abiding Americans to defend themselves and their families from acts of violence.”
“Banning guns from law-abiding Americans based on the criminal act of a madman will do nothing to prevent future attacks,” the organization added.
So yea, it’s a tiny concession to push their bigger talking points. But it still feels like hell is freezing over.