Welch Says Congress Dodging Debate On Guns

Oct 11, 2017

Rep. Peter Welch says he's disappointed that House Speaker Paul Ryan has decided not to pursue legislation that would ban the devices used in the Las Vegas shootings that allow semi automatic rifles to function more as automatic weapons.

Welch says House Republican leaders are choosing a regulatory solution to this issue because they want to avoid having their members vote on it.

This issue is focused on a device known as a bump stock. When used with a semi-automatic rifle, it allows the rifle to fire almost as quickly as an automatic weapon.

More than a dozen of these devices were found on rifles belonging to the shooter in Las Vegas where 58 people were killed and nearly 500 injured.

Bump stocks have been approved for use by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. House Speaker Paul Ryan says he wants the feds to review that decision.

Welch strongly disagrees because he wants the House to vote on this issue.

"That's really just a way of saying they don't want to stand up and be counted on the question of whether bump stocks should be illegal,” said Welch. “And it mystifies me, really, because fully automatic weapons are appropriate in combat they're illegal in civilian life, they're illegal."  

Welch is convinced that legislation banning the use of bump stocks would pass in the House if it came to the floor for a vote.

"That's really just a way of saying they don't want to stand up and be counted on the question of whether bump stocks should be illegal." - Rep. Peter Welch

"Why would a member of Congress not vote to make crystal clear that you can't do an end run around our ban on fully automatic weapons by banning these bump stocks," said Welch.   

Welch says Ryan's decision is part of an ongoing effort by Congressional leaders to avoid debating important gun issues.

"On some of these major issues in our country, I think that Congress works better if we take responsibility and we've been dodging this. Congress has been dodging this for years so it's time, and the bump stock would be a good first step," said Welch.

Evan Hughes is the vice president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. He says it's a big mistake to vote on legislation banning the bump stocks until all the facts are known in this case.

"There's an ongoing criminal investigation happening as we speak and doing anything prior to that being concluded is premature,” said Hughes.

"And as the ATF has made a ruling on this accessory already they should go back and review their prior determination." - Evan Hughes, vice president of the Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs

And Hughes thinks Ryan's decision to send this issue back to the federal ATF for further review makes a lot of sense.

"The [Sportsmen's] Federation is highly focused on process and as the ATF has made a ruling on this accessory already they should go back and review their prior determination,” said Hughes. 

Hughes says it's also critical to enforce the country's existing gun laws before embarking on efforts to pass new ones.

"If we focused our limited resources in this country on dealing with violent convicted felons committing violent felonies we would go a long way towards reducing crime," said Hughes.

Welch is working with a bipartisan group of House members to pass a bill banning bump stocks. However, he says that effort cannot be successful without Speaker Ryan's support.