House Republican leaders Tuesday distanced themselves from legislation that would lift taxes and regulations on gun suppressors and expand access to hunting and sports shooting, two days after the largest mass shooting in U.S. history happened in Las Vegas.
The measure cleared a House committee last month and was on deck for possible consideration, but Republicans have not scheduled a vote on the so-called suppressor legislation. The future of the legislation is now uncertain.
"That bill is not scheduled now," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Tuesday after meeting with GOP lawmakers in a closed-door meeting. "I don't know when it's going to be scheduled."
Ryan said the GOP is focused on tax reform.
"That is our present focus," he said.
Republicans leaving the GOP meeting said the hunting and hearing protection measures have been shelved indefinitely in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting. A gunman killed 59 people and injured hundreds on Sunday night using a multitude of guns, including a legal bump stock that increased the firepower of one of the weapons.
The suppressor measure had been included in a bill dubbed the Sportsmen's Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act, which would expand access to hunting, fishing, and recreational shooting. Proponents of the bill said it was needed to protect the hearing of hunters and recreational shooters.
"I think it is safe to say in our Republican conference, you are not going to see those bills moving forward," Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., told reporters.
Following the attack, Democrats and pro-gun control advocates immediately flagged the suppressor measure as a bill that would make it harder for victims to flee a shooter because the sound would be diminished.
While they appear to be backing off on measures lifting gun control, Republicans are far from advocating new gun control legislation, which they have successfully resisted following the many mass shootings that have occurred in the United States while the House has been under GOP control.
"We all discussed the tragedy," Collins said, describing the GOP meeting agenda that included the Las Vegas shooting. "Certainly all of our thoughts and prayers go out to them. That was pretty much the total extent of it."
Ryan told reporters legislation aimed at reducing gun violence should focus on programs addressing mental illness and cited mental health reform legislation the House passed last year.
"Mental health reform is a critical ingredient of what we can do to try to prevent these things from happening again," Ryan said.
Ryan defended a House bill passed earlier this year that rolled back an Obama-era regulation that would have given the Social Security Administration the power to block some less-capable recipients from purchasing guns.
"There were people whose rights were being infringed," Ryan said. "Protecting peoples' rights was very important."
Ryan and most Republicans said gun control legislation should not be under discussion in the the immediate aftermath of the shooting.
Democrats have taken the opposite view, arguing that the tragedy makes it imperative Congress act quickly. But Ryan disagreed.
"Our fellow citizens… need to heal, they need to grieve they need to pray and they need to come together," Ryan said. "It's important that reflect the fact that our hearts are with them."