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Montana's Senators Support Hearings On Assault Weapon Modifications

Bump stocks essentially modify semi-automatic rifles into machine guns.

After Sunday night’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, gun control has yet again become a hot topic among U.S. lawmakers. But this time some top Republicans and the National Rifle Association are hinting they may support additional regulations on  bump stock modifications for assault rifles.

These bump stocks turn a semi-automatic weapon into a machine gun. It’s what shooter Steven Paddock used to kill 59 people and wound nearly 500 in Las Vegas.

Montana Republican senator Steve Daines says he supports reviewing policy on bump stocks.

“I think we need to look at these ‘bump stocks’ and if we’re looking at policies, will they make our communities safer or not?” he says.

He also says the country needs to focus on what it can do to prevent people from committing acts like this in the first place.

“There’s mental health issues and so forth in the nation that we’ve got to continue to have a debate about,” he says.

Democratic Senator Jon Tester also supports hearings on bump stocks.

"In the limited time I have had to review them, bump stocks don’t appear to have a use other than to make it easier to kill people, but I want to get more information," he says in a statement emailed to Yellowstone Public Radio.

And as for background checks for people who purchase guns?

“I’m not sure that background checks would’ve stopped this guy from doing it but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and court-adjudicated mentally ill folks and terrorists. I think it’s really important we do that,” Tester says.

In 2016, Both Daines and Tester voted ‘no’ on a Democratic bill that would’ve toughened background checks for gun purchases. In a statement released then, Tester said that bill could jeopardize second amendment rights.

Both senators advocate keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists, but Daines says, as far as they know right now, Paddock wasn’t a terrorist.

“We don’t see a political motive at this point, so in that sense I see this as a deranged individual who was inflicting carnage for reasons that I don’t think anybody knows right now,” he says. 

In an emailed statement to Yellowstone Public Radio, Republican congressman Greg Gianforte said Paddock was deranged and “stricter laws against guns would not have prevented this.”

There have been almost 300 mass shootings, which are classified as shootings where 4 or more people are killed, in the United States since the beginning of 2017. A recent Gallup poll says most Americans support stronger gun laws.

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