Another mass shooting has spurred another rush to judgment. After the Las Vegas shooting, Democrats complain about Republican leniency on the gun industry. But White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has flipped the argument.
In two separate interviews Thursday, Conway pointed out that the previous administration was responsible for the regulatory oversight that first made "bump stocks" legal. In short, the Trump White House now argues that it's former President Barack Obama's fault.
"I would just note for the viewers that since ‘bump stock' has not probably been in the lexicon before," Conway said on "Fox and Friends," "this is a device that President Obama's ATF decided would not be regulated in 2010. I think that's an important part of this conversation."
And she's right. Halfway through Obama's first term, the ATF approved bump stocks, that device found in the possession of the Las Vegas shooter, which allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire almost at full-auto. Because the accessory uses the shoulder of the shooter and the momentum of the recoil to increase the rate of fire, instead of internal mechanical parts, the agency decided that the device "is not regulated as a firearm under the Gun Control Act or the National Firearms Act."
That was a selling point for bump stock manufacturer Slide Fire. Each stock the company ships comes with a letter from the ATF certifying that the device is legal. No background check required. But that could be changing.
Conway not only pointed out that Republicans are open to regulating the device, she signaled that the White House is also entertaining the idea.
"The Second Amendment is a bedrock in our Constitution along with the First Amendment. These rights must be protected," Conway said before noting that many pro-gun Republican senators "have been telling us and I read publicly that they've never even heard of the device before."
After Las Vegas, the public wants something done and, after listening to Conway, it's easy to imagine increased regulation on bump stocks. That move would allow the Trump administration to deflect blame on his predecessor while taking the path least restrictive of the Second Amendment. At least for now, that looks like the White House's current play.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.