In the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in recent American history, which happened in a country where more mass shootings happen than anywhere else in the world, Republicans are championing bills that will make it even easier for men like Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock to commit acts of domestic terrorism.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that two bills are making their way through a Republican-controlled Congress and, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have the votes necessary to pass. The first bill, the Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, is a wide-ranging bill that includes the Hearing Protection Act, a provision that weakens restrictions on obtaining gun silencers. Critics say this would make it harder to identify the source of the gunfire in a mass shooting.
“Incredibly, Congress is currently working on legislation that would weaken our gun laws,” said Mark Kelly during a press conference with his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Arizona), who was shot while meeting publicly with constituents in 2011. “Imagine how much worse last night’s shooting could’ve been if the gunman had a silencer. Imagine the confusion for first responders if they arrived on the scene to a bunch of civilians wielding their own guns, attempting to return fire.”
“The nation is counting on you,” Giffords said during the same event.
In a March letter to Congress opposing the Hearing Protection Act, the National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence wrote, “The widespread and uncontrolled distribution of silencers to an unwary civilian population, combined with the sheer number of firearms freely available in America is a step in the wrong direction and will result in tragedy, including violence directed at police officers that will be difficult or impossible to investigate effectively.”
Also tucked into the bill, which was intended to loosen hunting restrictions and is heavily supported by the NRA, is the legalization of armor-piercing bullets, so long as they are marketed for “sporting purposes.”
The bill was tabled after Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) was shot at a Congressional baseball game in June. According to Politico, Republicans were expecting to bring the bill to the House floor soon, but in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, top Republican leaders have not commented on their plans for the bill. Several of them have, however, offered their useless thoughts and prayers.
While the SHARE Act sounds terrifying, the second Republican-backed measure is quite possibly even worse, allowing gun owners from concealed-carry states to bring their firearms into states that have tight restrictions on concealed weapons. If the bill passes, then someone who carries a gun in Nevada—which does not require a permit for carrying a concealed weapon—would be able to bring that weapon to California or New York without applying for a permit or undergoing a background check, as required by state law.
Democrats, meanwhile, are again pushing for gun control. “Last night’s massacre may go down as the deadliest in our nation’s history, but already this year there have been more mass shootings than days in the year,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), who represents Newtown, the site of the Sandy Hook massacre, in a statement.
“This must stop. It is positively infuriating that my colleagues in Congress are so afraid of the gun industry that they pretend there aren’t public policy responses to this epidemic,” he said. “There are, and the thoughts and prayers of politicians are cruelly hollow if they are paired with continued legislative indifference. It’s time for Congress to get off its ass and do something.”