Device that turns rifles into machine guns under review

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US gun lobby agrees to examine regulation of 'bump stocks'

LAS VEGAS: The US gun lobby, which has seldom embraced new firearms-control measures, expressed a willingness to support a restriction on the rifle accessory that enabled a Las Vegas gunman to strafe a crowd with bursts of sustained gunfire as if from an automatic weapon.

Police said the gunman, Stephen Paddock, fitted 12 of his weapons with so-called bump-stock devices that allow semi-automatic rifles to operate as if they were fully automatic machine guns, which are otherwise outlawed in the United States.

Authorities said his ability to fire hundreds of rounds a minute for 10 minutes from a 32nd-storey hotel suite was a major factor in the high casualty count of 58 people killed and hundreds wounded.

The influential National Rifle Association (NRA), which staunchly opposed moves to tighten gun control laws after the Orlando massacre and others, said on Thursday that bump stocks, which remain legal, "should be subject to additional regulations".

"Gun control is a failed policy. We've tried it and it is safe to say that it doesn't keep people safe," Mr Chris Cox, executive director at the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said on Fox News.

"There needs to be an honest conversation about solutions that work, and one of those solutions is to make sure the Second Amendment is supported and protected."

The NRA called for the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to address bump stocks by regulation, rather than opening up the issue to the legislative process.

Senior Republicans also signalled they were ready to deal with the sale of bump stocks - an accessory that gun control advocates regard as a work-around to bans on machine-guns.

"Clearly that is something we need to look into," House Speaker Paul Ryan told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

US Representative Steve Scalise, a member of the Republican House leadership who is himself a victim of gun violence, voiced concern that hasty congressional action to restrict bump stocks could lead to wider limits on "the rights of gun owners".

"There are people who want to rush to judgment," Mr Scalise said in an MSNBC interview on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump, an outspoken proponent of gun rights during his campaign for the White House, suggested that he was open to curbs on bump stocks.

Meanwhile, reports emerged on Thursday that Paddock may have targeted other sites for attack. He researched locations in Boston, including Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox baseball club, NBC reported, citing multiple law enforcement sources. - REUTERS


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