Washington, D.C. – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) this
week joined his Democratic colleagues to introduce two measures that would
close loopholes in firearms laws and protect Americans from gun violence in the
wake of the deadliest mass shooting in the nation’s history.
“Protecting the American people from another horrific event
like what happened in Las Vegas should be a top priority of every member of
Congress,” said Whitehouse, who serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“And yet, criminals can still legally buy a gun simply because the FBI has not
finished an ongoing background check. It is within the law for anyone to
purchase a relatively inexpensive bump stock to convert a semiautomatic firearm
into a weapon capable of spraying hundreds of rounds in the span of a
minute. We do not need another mass shooting to demonstrate that these
loopholes needlessly endanger innocent Americans.”
Whitehouse joined Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to
reintroduce legislation to close a loophole that allows gun sales to proceed if
a background check is not completed after 72 hours, even if the gun buyer is
not legally allowed to purchase a gun. When a criminal background check
indicates that a firearm purchaser may have a criminal record, the Federal
Bureau of Investigation tries to determine whether the purchaser can legally
buy a gun. If this process takes longer than 72 hours, gun dealers can
complete the sale even though there is a heightened risk that the purchaser is
legally disqualified from purchasing a gun. The loophole has allowed
thousands of gun sales to prohibited buyers, including the sale of the firearm
used by Dylann Roof in his deadly 2015 attack at Emanuel AME Church in
Whitehouse also cosponsored Senator Dianne Feinstein’s
(D-CA) Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act, a bill to close a loophole that
allows semi-automatic weapons to be easily modified to fire at the rate of
automatic weapons, which have been illegal for more than 30 years.
Semiautomatic rifles typically have a rate of fire between 45 and 60 rounds per
minute. A bump stock or other similar device increases a semi-automatic
rifle’s rate of fire to between 400 and 800 rounds per minute. Legitimate
accessories used by members of law enforcement and hunters would be exempt.