Congress Considers Gun Laws

Following the Sunday massacre in Las Vegas, public support for stricter gun regulations has risen while the Republican controlled Congress seeks to loosen gun laws.

The pattern following mass shootings in the U.S. typically shows a spike in support of stricter gun laws, but the result is often faded public interest over time and gun legislation failing to pass or even be introduced.

However, following the recent tragedy, the debate over federal gun control in Congress is likely to be rekindled. Nonetheless, recent acts of gun violence, including the mass shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida and the summer attack on the congressional GOP baseball practice, have failed to alter the sharp partisan divide.

Many Democrats argue that incidents, like the massacre in Vegas, reveal the need for stricter gun control, while most Republicans cite events like these as a greater need for Americans to defend themselves.

Last month, the House Natural Resources Committee advanced the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, which would make it easier to buy firearm silencers. Federal authorities liken silencer attachments to machine guns and explosives.

The new bill would also loosen transportation restrictions across state lines and prevent the designation of various forms of ammunition as “armor-piercing,” weakening federal oversight.

Other legislation has been making its way into Congress seeking to curb or repeal current federal gun laws, including one that requires every state to recognize a concealed-carry permit issued in one state, though none have gained the same traction as the silencer bill.

North Dakota’s congressional delegation, including Sen. Heitkamp, Sen. Hoeven and Rep. Cramer, have remained relatively silent on gun legislation after offering their condolences following the tragedy in Vegas.

Sen. Heitkamp and Sen. Hoeven issued statements from their office expressing the desire to learn more about bump stocks and the events in Las Vegas before moving forward with gun legislation.

“I haven’t heard much about bump stocks before, and I first want to learn more about them,” Heitkamp said.

“I am not familiar with bump stocks, but we need to look into them as part of getting all of the information on this tragic event,” Hoeven said.

Rep. Cramer has actively been supporting the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, likening the overreaction to “making cars illegal when some people can use a car to commit a crime.”

Cramer has expressed that he is open to discussion and debate on gun control legislation, but feels that, due to the current circumstances, any action should be held back out of respect.

All three congressional members receive significant donations from gun lobbyists during election cycles. Hoeven received $26,900 during his 2016 re-election, and Cramer received no less than $10,000 during his 2014 and 2016 re-elections. Heitkamp received $6,000 during the 2014 election cycle, even though she wasn’t running.

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