On October 1, 2017, from the windows of his corner suites on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Hotel in Paradise, Nevada, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock opened fire on 22,000 people attending the annual Route 91 Harvest country music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. He was equipped with 24 firearms and a boatload of high-capacity magazines allowing him to fire up to 100 rounds a minute. His targets at the festival below were nearly 500 yards away, but that proved no obstacle for his .223-caliber AR-15-type and .308-caliber AR-10-type semi-automatic rifles. To add to the lethality, his AR-15’s were fitted with bump stocks, which allowed him to fire 90 rounds in ten seconds.

In what quickly became the deadliest mass shooting by one gunman in American history, Paddock killed 60 people, and shot and injured 413 more. In the resulting panic, another 400 people suffered injuries.

In a solemn address from the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, President Trump said the country was united “in sadness, shock and grief” over “an act of pure evil.” Over a year later, in December 2018, the Trump administration “issued a new rule banning bump stocks, the attachments that enable semiautomatic rifles to fire in sustained, rapid bursts.”

To his credit, after the Parkland, Florida high school mass shooting on Valentine’s Day 2018, President Trump pushed for the bump stock rule and overcame resistance from his own Justice Department.

The regulatory move may face a legal challenge. The Justice Department had initially decided that the executive branch lacked the authority to ban bump stocks on its own under existing gun-control laws, and that action in Congress — where it is politically difficult to enact new gun-control legislation — would be necessary to curb legal access to the devices.

But the department reinterpreted its legal authority and determined it could ban the devices as an executive action after President Trump directed it to find a way to prohibit them earlier this year, following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court, including the three members Trump appointed, just ruled that the Justice Department’s initial analysis was correct and congressional action is needed to outlaw bump stocks. Oddly, Trump celebrated the decision and claimed that as president he “did nothing” on the issue or any other restrictions on weapons of mass death.

With the ball now in Congress’s court, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer planned to introduce a bill to ban bump stocks on Tuesday, but rather than get bogged down in filing. for cloture and trying to overcome a filibuster, he was asking for unanimous consent from all 100 senators. You’d think it would be able to pass but that’s not going to happen. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina will not consent. Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida says it should be a states’ rights issue.  Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio, who wants to be Trump’s running mate, says the ban is a distraction that will “end up just inhibiting the rights of law-abiding Americans.”

But there’s no difference between the two parties, right? Six years ago, even Trump recognized there’s no Second Amendment reason for civilians to have the ability to fire 90 bullets in 10 seconds. But his Court didn’t agree, and his congressional Republicans don’t agree. It doesn’t even look like Trump agrees anymore.

And they have the power, even out of office or in the minority to protect mass shooters over country music concert-goers. So it goes.


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