Lawmakers rallied last week to work on gun control legislation in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting. But House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said this week it makes more sense for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) to take administrative action. A bill sponsored by Reps. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) would have banned any device that “is designed and functions to increase the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle but does not convert the semi-automatic rifle into a machine gun.” Police said Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock had a dozen of his weapons equipped with such devices, often called bump stocks. The ATF deemed bump stocks legal in 2010.
“We think the regulatory fix is the smartest, quickest fix, and then, frankly, we’d like to know how it happened in the first place,” Ryan said. With the House speaker deferring to the ATF, support for the bump stocks bill will likely slow. President Donald Trump said he’s open to discussing bump stocks use but would not say if he supports banning them. —E.W.
President Donald Trump continues to bemoan the slow crawl of the judicial confirmation process, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to do something about it. McConnell told The Weekly Standard on Wednesday he favors the Senate ditching its blue slip protocol to speed up the confirmation process. Blue slips are blue pieces of paper that a nominee’s home state senator must return to the Judiciary Committee before scheduling a confirmation hearing. McConnell said he thinks the Senate should no longer honor the tradition, but he’ll leave it up to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, to decide. McConnell argues Democrats are abusing the blue slip process to bottle up nominees, but Grassley disagrees. He said senators from both parties returned blue slips in a timely manner and suggested the real problem lies on the Senate floor, where only seven of 17 nominees cleared out of committee have received a vote from the full Senate. Grassley said instead of changing Senate tradition, senators should skip recesses until they catch up on the backlog. —E.W.