House Republicans are getting ready to approve a bill that could worsen America’s gun violence epidemic even as the country mourns the deadliest mass shooting in its history.
Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire from his hotel room window at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on a concert attended by 22,000 people. At least 58 people were killed and more than 500 were injured.
Police said Paddock had “in excess of 10 rifles” in his room at the time of the shooting.
Many Americans watched the aftermath of the shooting on the news, as they had after the shooting in Orlando last year, the shooting in Sandy Hook five years ago, the shooting in Virginia Tech ten years ago, and demanded something be done to stop the rate at which Americans are slaughtered by other Americans using tools designed only to destroy bodies.
Republicans, on the other hand, watched the aftermath, as they had with every other mass shooting, while preparing to pass a bill that will likely only worsen the situation.
The Republican Sportsmen Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act (SHARE) would deregulate gun silencers by removing them from the 1934 National Firearms Act. Silencers are currently regulated as strictly as machine guns and short-barreled rifles.
The group claims that the restrictions, which have been in place for over eighty years, are costly and unnecessary because silencers are seldom used to carry out crimes. Perhaps because they are so well-regulated.
Critics of the bill, of which there are many, argue that the rarity of gun silencers in crimes is a result of the policy doing its job. Experts believe deregulation may increase the number of casualties in mass shooting events because potential victims won’t be able to hear the sound of gunshots and flee before it reaches them.
Former ATF agent David Chapman, who now serves as a senior policy advisor for Americans for Responsible Solutions, testified before Congress last month that the bill would only worsen the country’s gun violence epidemic.
“Congress is promoting a bill that would make a [shooting] potentially even more dangerous by putting silencers in the hands of criminals, and making it difficult for people — including law enforcement officers — to identify the sound of gunshots and locate an active shooter,” Chapman told Congress, though that apparently did not dissuade them from pushing forward with the bill.
In fact, House Republicans delayed the bill after one of their own, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, was shot along with five others during a Congressional baseball practice. Now they’re readying to move forward with the bill once again.
“Lives were spared that day because people recognized the unique sound of gunfire and were able to take cover,” he said of the Scalise shooting.
The bill may come to a vote as soon as this week, and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the GOP has the votes to pass it.