Congress can’t flinch now.
During the days after the massacre in Las Vegas, momentum was quickly building for one, simple step aimed at preventing future tragedies and stopping a single gunman from slaughtering 58 innocent people and wounding hundreds more.
Focus on bump stocks. Ban the attachments that allow rifles to fire almost as fast as fully automatic weapons. Bump stocks were used by the Las Vegas gunman. They were his accomplice, accelerating the pace of murder.
That was a resounding refrain. On this single modest measure, it seemed we could all agree. Even the National Rifle Association appeared ready to acquiesce.
Several Republican representatives and senators from our area joined the congressional chorus voicing support.
Rep. Kevin Yoder of Kansas issued a firm statement. “I will support measures to regulate or ban these types of devices,” he said.
His Kansas colleague, Rep. Lynn Jenkins, aligned with Yoder, as did the most senior member of the Kansas delegation, Sen. Pat Roberts.
Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri hedged, noting it was “a little too quick for us to decide” about legislation. But like Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, Blunt seemed open to at least learning more about bump stocks.
Democrats, including Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, didn’t mince words. She supported a ban.
That was then.
Instead, they support mulling the issue. Studying it to oblivion. It’s a sad but predictable reversal.
The NRA, in a rare moment of reasonableness, had given a blessing of sorts, seemingly providing some political cover for Congress to take action on bump stocks.
“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully automatic rifles should be subjected to additional regulations,” was the official statement from NRA leadership just last week.
The White House concurred, issuing a statement that it wanted to be a part of this necessary conversation.
Now, just days later, the NRA is offering wiggle room to members of Congress who could be cowed into inaction by a base of one-issue voters.
But our local congressional delegation should not waver. Simply issuing press releases doesn’t suffice. Actual leadership is required now.
Our members of Congress must stand strong for keeping Americans safe from heinous acts of gun violence.