Thank you for contacting my office about your concerns with the mass murder and violence in Las Vegas.
I support the most thorough investigation of all aspects of this brutal mass murder and believe we need to provide resources to the victims and their families, heal, and come together and always continue to find solutions to prevent such violence. Whether it’s violence from firearms, explosives, or vehicles mowing down innocent people, we need to prepare and respond to all of these threats. As a former Senior Justice Department official, I have a strong record of working with our state, local, and national law enforcement professionals to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, to provide more mental health resources, to prevent straw purchases, and to prevent acts of domestic terrorism. Virginia has been a leader in providing information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and I have worked in Congress to provide funding to ensure all states update their records for an up-to-date and comprehensive system. This year we continued funding to support the NICS system.
We still need all the facts regarding the mass murder in Las Vegas. As part of that investigation it has emerged that a device known as a “bump stock” was fitted onto some of the semi-automatic weapons used during this heinous mass murder. According to the Washington Post, these devices came onto the market in 2010 during the Obama Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) approved the device without any regulations. Therefore, I have joined my colleagues in a letter to ATF Acting Director Thomas E. Brandon for the bureau to re-evaluate this decision about bump stocks and other similar mechanisms.
You can read the full letter to ATF Acting Director Brandon below:
The Honorable Thomas E. Brandon
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives
99 New York Ave NE
Washington, DC 20226
Dear Acting Director Brandon,
On the morning of October 2, we were shocked and appalled to awaken to news of the horrific events that occurred during the night at a concert in Las Vegas. As a nation, we mourn the loss of life, we condemn the senseless and evil attack on these innocent victims, and we praise the brave actions by our first responders and bystanders alike.
As members of Congress, however, it is our responsibility to examine this situation to determine what actions, if any, may be taken as an appropriate response to this national tragedy. We recognize that it is impossible to prevent tragedy—we cannot stop evil in its many forms, and we cannot gauge the level of hate in someone’s heart. But we can come together to find commonsense ways in which to blunt the damage these evildoers are able to inflict upon other citizens while ensuring protection of individuals’ civil liberties and rights under our Constitution.
Reports in the aftermath of this tragedy indicate that the perpetrator may have used a commercially available mechanism to modify the rate at which his weapons were able to discharge. Commonly called a bump-stock—also known as a “slide fire”—this mechanism is designed to replace the weapon’s original shoulder stock to allow the rest of the weapon to slide backward and forward, harnessing the kinetic energy of the weapon’s recoil to allow for a more rapid trigger pull, thereby dramatically increasing the rate of discharge.
It is also our understanding that this mechanism is technically legal under the National Firearms Act (26 U.S.C. 5845(b)) and the Gun Control Act (18 U.S.C. 921(a)(23)). In fact, we have enclosed two letters from the Firearms Technology Branch (FTB) of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) dated June 7, 2010 and April 2, 2012 which indicate this mechanism is not implicated by the laws that apply to machineguns.
In light of the tragic events in Las Vegas, we respectfully request that FTB-ATF work expeditiously to re-evaluate bump stocks and similar mechanisms to ensure full compliance with federal law. If the re-evaluation shows otherwise, we request that you move swiftly to issue appropriate rulings concerning the manufacture, sale, transfer, and importation of these mechanisms, as well as any other mechanism that is expressly designed to simulate the automatic rate of fire of a machinegun. For our part, we will be studying legislative options to close any loopholes that might exist in current statutes governing the regulation of machineguns.
We trust that you will undertake this request expeditiously and thoroughly, and we thank you for your thoughtful consideration. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.
Thank you again for contacting me. It is a privilege to serve you in the Tenth District. I may also be contacted at my Sterling office at 703-404-6903, or my Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-5136. By visiting http://comstock.house.gov, you can sign up to receive my email newsletters and follow my efforts to serve you. If I may ever be of service, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Member of Congress