Nebraska Republican blocks Democrats' attempt to fast-track bump stocks ban

Sen. Pete Ricketts says measure goes too far, would deprive disabled, elderly ability to use weapons

By Chris Benson & Mike Heuer
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had planned to pass a bill banning bump stocks by unanimous consent after the Supreme Court overturned a federal ban. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
1 of 6 | Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had planned to pass a bill banning bump stocks by unanimous consent after the Supreme Court overturned a federal ban. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

June 18 (UPI) -- Senate Democrats on Tuesday failed to pass a bill banning bump stocks after the Supreme Court last week struck down a Trump-era federal ban.

A lone dissenting vote by Republican Sen. Pete Ricketts, R-Neb., halted the attempt to fast-track the measure through a unanimous consent vote in the Senate.


Ricketts said the proposed measure goes beyond a simple ban on bump stocks and would enable the federal government to target common firearm accessories, not just bump stocks.

"If Democrats really cared about gun violence, they'd be trying to build support for a bill that can actually pass," Ricketts said. "Instead, we have a show vote on a bill that uses vague language to ban as many firearms accessories as possible."

Ricketts said disabled and elderly Americans who rely on bump stocks and other accessories to enable them to use firearms would be deprived of their Second Amendment rights.


A bump stock replaces the manufacturer's rifle stock with one that the user holds against one shoulder so the recoil of a semiautomatic rifle enables the firearm to move back and forth.

The back-and-forth action enables many who are disabled and otherwise incapable of operating a firearm to use a rifle for target practice, recreational shooting and self-defense.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday he planned to bring a measure to ban the attachments that allow semiautomatic weapons to fire off hundreds of rounds in a single pull of a trigger by unanimous consent, which allows a measure to pass through the chamber if no lawmakers object.

He said the recent Supreme Court ruling is another sign that the court, which features three justices appointed by former President Donald Trump, is "going off the deep end, aligning itself more and more with the most extreme elements of the hard-right," Schumer said, adding how the country's highest court "struck down freedom of choice, environmental protections, affirmative action, fair redistricting, gun safety, and more."

"We have a long way to go to cure America's disease of gun violence," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday in remarks on the Senate floor as he called out the "MAGA Supreme Court."


"Today you don't need to show people the statistics -- Americans know gun violence is disgustingly unacceptable," he said.

The "Banning Unlawful Machinegun Parts Act," or BUMP Act, was introduced by a bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.

"Bump stocks are designed to turn semi-automatic firearms into what are essentially machine guns," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said in a statement.

"This bipartisan legislation will prohibit the use of these dangerous devices while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans."

In his remarks, Schumer said he understood that the issue of gun safety "provokes intense disagreement in Congress. But shouldn't we all agree that preventing another tragedy like Las Vegas is just plain common sense and a good thing? "

Other Senate Republicans, including Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, also expressed their willingness to go along with the ban but had concerns.

But the bipartisan effort led by Senate Democrats to get unanimous consent is unlikely to grow legs. Republicans have indicated they are ready to kill the bump stock ban bill, with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., saying he is prepared to object to the bill, Politico reported.


"It's a political exercise. It's a shame," Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., said, accusing Schumer of "poisoning the well" on the issue.

Tillis said if Schumer "were serious about" the bump stock ban he "would be calling people into a room who've worked on bipartisan bills and say, 'I know I've got an unwilling House. How do we produce a bipartisan outcome?'"

"Instead he's going to do a [unanimous consent request] and say all Republicans are against it in spite of the fact that he's dealing with one person who was willing to get it right on the Safer Communities Act," Tillis told The Hill.

On Monday, Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, a rumored potential Trump running mate, ripped into the bill saying it "is aimed at a PR problem, not something that's going to meaningfully reduce gun violence in this country" and called it "a huge distraction."

"I think that we have to ask ourselves: What is the real gun violence problem in this country, and are we legislating in a way that solves fake problems? Or solves real problems?" Vance told reporters.

"This is not a fake problem," Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev, said in reply to Vance's comments, urging the Ohio Republican to visit Las Vegas and the site of the concert shooting.


"Let him see the memorial for those people who died. Let him talk to those families. It's not a fake problem. Those families are dead," said Rosen.

The Justice Department in December 2018 moved to ban bump stocks, ruling bump stocks effectively rendered firearms into machine guns, implemented after the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas concert.

But the Supreme Court last week struck down the ban on bump stocks on semiautomatic weapons in a 6-3 decision, along the court's conservative-liberal split, the court said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not have the authority to institute the ban, contending that federal law that bans machine guns from the public should not extend to bump stocks.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a concurring opinion stating that the "simple remedy" for "the disparate treatment of bump stocks and machine guns" was for Congress to amend the law.

President Joe Biden also called on Congress to take action in response to the Supreme Court decision.

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