October 04, 2017

Duckworth & Durbin Co-Sponsor Bill to Close Automatic Weapons Loophole


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), are co-sponsoring Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)'s legislation to close a loophole exploited by the Las Vegas shooter that allows firearms to be fired at the rate of automatic weapons, which have been illegal for more than 30 years. The Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act would ban the sale, transfer, importation, manufacture or possession of bump stocks, trigger cranks and similar devices, which accelerate a semi-automatic rifle's rate of fire and makes an active shooter situation much more dangerous. The bill exempts legitimate accessories used by hunters and has exemptions for lawful possession of these devices by law enforcement and the government.

"In the aftermath of the deadliest mass shooting in our nation's modern history, Congress cannot simply hold another moment of silence without action - and we cannot continue to stand by while our siblings, parents and children get mowed down in their homes, at schools and at concert venues," said Senator Duckworth. "I don't want my daughter to have to grow up in a country that won't protect her from gun violence - and I refuse to accept that there's nothing we can do. While the time to act should have been before Monday's attack, we at least must now take action on common-sense solutions like closing the loophole that allows anyone to create a military-style assault rifle that would be illegal if bought in a store. We owe it to the victims - not just of the tragedy in Las Vegas but to all gun violence victims - to take action, not just deliver thoughts and prayers."

"58 innocent lives were taken and more than 500 were injured when a murderous gunman opened fire at a music festival in Las Vegas. We are still trying to get to the bottom of what happened, but it appears that this man was able to inflict so much death and destruction because he had equipped 12 of his weapons with bump stocks. Fully automatic guns have long been banned for civilian use under the National Firearms Act. But a loophole exists for these bump stocks and other devices that enable shooters to make semiautomatic weapons emulate automatic weapons,"
said Senator Durbin. "That's why we need the Automatic Gunfire Prevention Act, which would close the loophole in current law by banning bump stocks and other devices such as 'trigger cranks' that accelerate a semi-automatic rifle's rate of fire. This is only one small step in the process to reducing gun violence in America, but we must do it now before more innocent lives are lost. I am encouraged that a number of my Republican colleagues appear open to this idea, and I hope we can work together to help get this done."

This morning, reports emerged that the Las Vegas shooter had booked a hotel room last month overseeing Grant Park during Lollapalooza but he never showed up. He reportedly also had booked another hotel in Las Vegas overlooking an earlier music festival and researched locations in Boston around Fenway Park.

While the National Firearms Act made the sale, manufacture and transfer of automatic weapons illegal in 1986, under current law, it is legal to purchase "bump stocks" and similar devices that accelerate the rate of fire of semi-automatic weapons. Semi-automatic rifles typically have a rate of fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute. A "bump stock," increases the semi-automatic rifle's rate of fire between 400 and 800 rounds per minute.

Last year, Duckworth participated in the historic 25-hour sit-in on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives demanding a vote on legislation to prevent gun violence. She and Durbin also introduced legislation last year to secure so-called "soft" targets that make easy marks for would-be terrorists and mass shooters by directing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide help local governments and non-governmental soft targets develop active shooter and mass casualty energy action and response plans. Additionally, she and Durbin have introduced legislation to institute universal background checks, strengthen the background check system, close the gun show loophole, crack down on gun trafficking and straw purchasers, ban assault weapons that are more suited for war than for civilian use, limit the sale of high-capacity magazines that increase the number of people an active shooter can kill or injure, and ensure that individuals on the terrorist watch-list are not able to purchase weapons legally.

In addition to Duckworth, Durbin and Feinstein, the Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act is supported by U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bob Casey (D-PA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Tom Carper (D-DE), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH, Tim Kaine (D-VA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Brian Schatz (D-HI) Tom Udall (D-NM) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).