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‘Shame on him for disrespecting the dead’: Nevada senator erupts after Sen. JD Vance’s bump stock remarks

Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen is seeking re-election this year in Nevada, where a gunman killed 58 people in 2017 with firearms equipped with bump stocks.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., tore into Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, on Monday over remarks he made about bump stocks as the Senate grapples with whether to ban them.

Vance, who is widely considered a vice presidential contender on the GOP ticket with former President Donald Trump, called efforts by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and other Democrats to ban the devices “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. “And my very strong suspicion is that the Schumer legislation is aimed at a PR problem, not something that’s going to meaningfully reduce gun violence in this country.”

Vance also said he was concerned the bill could “end up just inhibiting the rights of law-abiding Americans.” Pressed about the 58 people who were killed in a mass shooting in Las Vegas in 2017, he said: “The question is: How many people would have been shot alternatively? And you have to ask yourself the question: Will anyone actually not choose a bump stock because Chuck Schumer passes a piece of legislation?”

His comments drew a fiery response from Rosen, who faces re-election this year. The Las Vegas gunman used firearms equipped with bump stocks.

“This is not a fake problem,” she told reporters. “Let him come to Las Vegas. 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.”

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“Las Vegas was changed forever because of what the shooter did, and the bump stocks helped him. And let JD Vance come — and I’m going to take him to the memorials. We’re going to talk to — talk about our first responders, our ambulance drivers, our police, our firefighters, people at the blood bank, regular people. Shame on him. Shame on him for disrespecting the dead,” the normally mild-mannered Rosen said in a rare flash of anger.

The Supreme Court ruled last week that the executive branch cannot use an existing law to prohibit bump stocks, which modify semi-automatic weapons to fire bullets more quickly.

Supreme Court rejects Trump-era ban on bump stocks for guns
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The 6-3 ruling, however, kept the door open for Congress to pass legislation banning the firearm accessories, and Schumer said Democrats plan to take up a measure as early as Tuesday.The war of words between Rosen and Vance pits two senators against each other over a hot-button issue that has galvanized many voters as mass shootings become commonplace in the U.S. Vance is courting a conservative base that is resistant to firearm limits, while Rosen’s stance appeals to a growing share of voters who have moved in favor of tougher gun laws.

Schumer also responded to Vance’s comments, telling NBC News: “Talk to the people in Las Vegas who lost loved ones.”

He said Democrats will ask the Senate for unanimous consent for legislation by Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., called the BUMP Act, which would revise the U.S. criminal code to prohibit bump stocks.

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The Trump administration initially put the regulation in place with the support of many Republicans. But Trump and some of the GOP lawmakers who backed it have now expressed less interest taking legislative steps to prohibit the accessories.

Any senator can deny a unanimous consent request. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told NBC News he will block the measure, meaning it would not be able to move forward under the expedited process.

“I will oppose any legislative fix,” Graham said Monday.

Vance, for his part, said his concerns were about Schumer’s legislative priorities.

“This is week three of Chuck Schumer focusing on fake problems instead of real problems,” he said. “We have real legislation. I have a rail safety bill that he promised he would bring up to the floor for a vote. Let’s do the things that actually have a chance of passing and actually making the country a better place.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., an outspoken proponent of tougher gun laws, said senators should support the measure banning bump stocks, calling it a “moderate proposal” that Republicans should have no problem voting for.

“Is it good politics to make it easier for potential mass killers to get their hands on machine guns? Probably not,” he said. “The idea is to try to make this attractive to Republicans. And we would be a lot better off if psychopaths couldn’t get their hands on machine guns. Let’s see if we can get a consensus this week. So I’ll be talking to Republicans all week to see if we can scrounge it up.”

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At least some Republicans favor the bump stock ban, including Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, who suggested the measure could come up through the normal process, requiring 60 votes to advance.

“I do support banning bump stocks,” he said. “I hope we can get a chance to vote on that.”

Rosen said Monday that she supports the Second Amendment, but she argued there is plenty Congress can still do to keep people safe.

“Thoughts and prayers don’t bring back anybody you love,” she said. “And it’s up to us to legislate. It’s up to us to keep people safe.”

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