Two days after the largest mass shooting in U.S. history, House Republican leaders distanced themselves from legislation that would lift taxes and regulations on gun suppressors and expand access to hunting and sports shooting, reports the Washington Examiner.
The future of this legislation is now uncertain: a House committee cleared the measure last month and was on deck for possible consideration, but there has been no scheduled vote on the so-called suppressor legislation.
“That bill is not scheduled now,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Tuesday after meeting with GOP lawmakers in a closed-door meeting. “I don’t know when it’s going to be scheduled.”
Ryan said that now, the GOP’s main concern is on tax reform. “That is our present focus,” he said.
The suppressor measure had been included in a bill dubbed the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, which is designed to expand access to hunting, fishing and recreational shooting. Proponents of the bill said it was needed to protect the hearing of hunters and recreational shooters. While Democrats and pro-gun control advocates say the bill would make it easier for gun holders to kill more and effectively.
“I think it is safe to say in our Republican conference, you are not going to see those bills moving forward,” Rep. Chris Collins, (R-N.Y.), told reporters.
After the deadly attack on Sunday, that killed 59 people, Democrats and pro-gun control advocates immediately flagged the suppressor measure as a bill that would make it harder for victims to flee a shooter because the sound would be diminished.
While Republicans may be backing off on measures lifting gun control, they are far from the point of legislating for new gun control, which they have successfully resisted following many mass shootings that have happened while the House has been under GOP control.
“We all discussed the tragedy,” Collins said, describing the GOP meeting agenda that included the Las Vegas shooting. “Certainly all of our thoughts and prayers go out to them. That was pretty much the total extent of it.”
Instead of gun control efforts, Speaker Ryan believes that more attention and legislation should go to addressing mental health issues and cited mental health reform legislation that House passed last year.
“Mental health reform is a critical ingredient of what we can do to try to prevent these things from happening again,” Ryan said.
Ryan had even defended a House bill passed earlier this year that rolled back an Obama-era regulation that would have given the Social Security administration the power to block some less-capable recipients from purchasing guns.
“There were people whose rights were being infringed,” Ryan said. “Protecting peoples’ rights was very important.”
While most Democrats are happy to politicize the gun shooting that injured more than 500 people, Republicans think that now is not that time to discuss gun control legislation.
“Our fellow citizens… need to heal, they need to grieve they need to pray and they need to come together,” Ryan said. “It’s important that reflect the fact that our hearts are with them.”