DES MOINES — If Republican President Donald Trump can get done nationally what Democratic state Rep. Art Staed has been unable to do in Iowa, the Cedar Rapids legislator said he would be happy.
“It doesn’t matter who takes credit,” Staed said about the effort to ban multi-burst trigger activators — commonly known as bump stocks.
But he does admit to some “disbelief” in hearing the president agrees with him on banning the accessory that enables a firearm to discharge two or more shots in a burst or allows semi-automatic weapons to fire as many as 400 to 800 rounds per minute, similar to a fully automatic weapon.
Trump, who earlier directed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to outlaw bump stocks nationwide, said Monday he was “writing out” bump sticks.
“Bump stocks, we are writing that out. I am writing that out,” he told governors at the White House. “I don’t care if Congress does it or not, I’m writing it out myself. … We are going to make it so tough, you’re not going to be able to get them. Nobody’s going to want them anyway.”
Trump’s effort followed the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead.
Staed and 15 Democratic colleagues sponsored House File 2144 in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting where one man with bump stock-enabled rifles shot more than 500 people in a quarter-hour last October, killing 58.
Despite the carnage and the increased calls for stricter gun control, Staed’s bill did not get a hearing in the Iowa Legislature. Referred to the Judiciary Committee, it was not assigned to a subcommittee and died in the Legislature’s self-imposed Feb. 16 deadline for measures to remain eligible for debate.
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“I’m not aware we have a bumps stock problem in Iowa,” said Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, who was Judiciary chairman when the bill was introduced. The issues behind mass shootings “go far beyond bump stocks — or guns,” he said.
Staed was not optimistic about the fate of HF 2144 because majority Republicans “have been going the other direction.”
This year, one of the House GOP priorities is to pass House Joint Resolution 2009, which affirms the “right of the people to keep and bear arms … and recognizes this right to be a fundamental individual right.” Any and all restrictions of this right shall be subject to “strict scrutiny.”
Staed was right not to expect his proposal to be embraced at the Statehouse. Similar legislation has been introduced in at least 30 states this year but only two of the bills have passed.
As Congress continues to resist taking action to restrict firearms — and the National Rifle Association suggests arming more teachers as an answer — some are looking to state legislatures.
Last week, high school students and others in Florida, Georgia, Colorado and North Carolina marched on capitols to demand more limits.
Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, said he expects that states will take some action on firearms, perhaps pairing some tighter gun regulations with measures that make it easier to own a gun.
Following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, for example, Oregon closed the gun-show loophole that allowed people to buy guns in private sales or at gun shows without background checks. But it also made it easier for people with concealed-carry permits for guns to prove they have the right to carry them.
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“Politicians make deals,” he said. “They are appealing to fear. One group feels more comfortable with more regulations and the other feels more comfortable with a gun at their side.”
Massachusetts and New Jersey — two relatively liberal states with Republican governors but Democratic legislatures — approved bump-stock bans last year
Outgoing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, signed the bill just before he left office, without comment. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker, also a Republican, had his lieutenant
governor, Karyn Polito, sign it.
Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts, contributed.
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