News Brief: Congress Talks 'Bump Stocks,' Las Vegas Latest, DACA Deadline

11 hours ago
Originally published on October 5, 2017 8:48 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

We now do know that a special device was used to maximize the carnage in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Yeah, these are tools called bump stocks, and they allowed the shooter to fire several rounds with a single pull on the trigger. And now as this new debate about gun control's taking shape, these kinds of devices might be a starting point. Here's Senator Tom Cole. He's a Republican. And here he is talking on MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

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TOM COLE: I did not know that there was technology capable that cheaply of transforming a semiautomatic into an automatic weapon. So yeah, I don't think there's any question we ought to look at that.

MARTIN: So that's the question now. Can Democrats and Republicans find some agreement here?

GREENE: Well, NPR's Domenico Montanaro's with us.

Hey, there, Domenico.

DOMENICO MONTANARO, BYLINE: Good morning.

GREENE: So is there real movement here? Are we at a moment when we could see this gun control debate in Congress change in some way?

MONTANARO: I - possibly. You know, this moment certainly seems different than after past shootings based on what you hear top Republicans saying. And it's not just Tom Cole like you played there. But John Cornyn from Texas, for example - he said yesterday that he owns many guns but that he doesn't understand the use of this bump stock. And there are about half a dozen other Republicans in Congress who've said similar things.

Senator Dianne Feinstein - Democrat from California who's very much in favor of gun restrictions - has already introduced narrow legislation to outlaw these bump stocks. She'd tried to do that in 2013 but was unsuccessful because that was part of a broader package of gun restrictions, David.

GREENE: OK, so we already have proposals about these bumps stocks coming up and looking like, you know - I mean, it would be up to the leadership, obviously, but it could - we could see votes or something. Is there anyone opposed to the idea of banning these kinds of devices, these bump stocks?

MONTANARO: Well, pretty typically, the gun rights groups are. The National Rifle Association - it's following - it's a similar playbook to what it does after a lot of these previous shootings. You know, they're very quiet about it.

The Gun Owners of America and other gun rights groups says that they see these bump stocks as protected. A spokesman yesterday said that given what - that they are already on the market, banning them, quote, "isn't going to stop bad guys like this creep in Las Vegas." And, you know, these lobbying groups are powerful and have lots of sway with members of Congress.

GREENE: And we should say that that's an argument often that you hear from the gun lobby, that, I mean, gun laws are not - even tightening gun laws as much as possible is not going to keep so-called creeps, as you said, from doing something like this.

MONTANARO: No doubt about it.

GREENE: So those are - that's what lawmakers have been saying. That's what the, you know, groups like the NRA say. What about public opinion right now?

MONTANARO: Well, look, with like a lot of other things, the country's split along party lines when it comes to gun restrictions. Democrats have been more in favor of restrictions over the past quarter century. Republicans have gone the opposite direction. They express a lot of distrust for government regulation. And while there're a lot more guns in the U.S. than ever before - Americans own about half the guns in the world, David - they are owned...

GREENE: Half the guns in the world.

MONTANARO: Half the guns in the world by Americans - and they're owned by far fewer people. Only about a third of households have a gun in them today. That's down from about half in the 1970s. On bump stocks in particular though, since we're talking about that - no one's really polled on them, which isn't surprising. Many lawmakers actually admitted yesterday they'd never heard of them until this shooting.

Typically, what we see is a yo-yo effect. Support for gun restrictions usually increases right after these kinds of mass shootings, and then they dissipate as you get further away from those tragedies, which is exactly why the NRA plays something of a delay game on this stuff in the immediate aftermath.

GREENE: OK, we'll see if that trend continues here. NPR's Domenico Montanaro - thanks, Domenico.

MONTANARO: Hey, you're welcome.

GREENE: All right, and let's go now to Las Vegas as some more details are emerging about the timeline of the shooting and also about the gunman's lifestyle.

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JOSEPH LOMBARDO: What we know is, Stephen Paddock is a man who spent decades acquiring weapons and ammo and living a secret life, much of which will never be fully understood.

MARTIN: That's Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo speaking there. There is one person, though, who might shed some light on Paddock's state of mind. It's his girlfriend. Her name is Marilou Danley. She was in the Philippines when the shooting happened Sunday night. Since then, she has now flown back to the U.S., and she has met with the FBI.

GREENE: And I want to ask NPR's Sarah McCammon who is in Las Vegas - Sarah, do we know what Danley is telling investigators right now?

SARAH MCCAMMON, BYLINE: No, David, we don't know for sure what she's said privately to police and the FBI. But so far, she has spoken publicly just through her attorney. And she's saying she had no idea that this was coming. Her attorney, Matthew Lombard, read a statement from her. In it, Danley describes the shooter as caring and quiet, and expresses her grief. She said, I am devastated by the deaths and injuries that have occurred, and my prayers go out to the victims and their families.

GREENE: OK, well, let me ask you one thing, Sarah. Is there any more information about Paddock, the shooter, wiring a big sum of money to Marilou Danley before the shooting, which was one big question people had?

MCCAMMON: Right. What we know about that is that Danley says - again, through her attorney - that the shooter had bought her a plane ticket prior to this. He'd encouraged her to go to the Philippines and visit her family there. And she also says he wired her money to help her family buy a house. She says she was, you know, grateful for the money but actually worried that he was breaking up with her, that this was a sign that their relationship was ending.

GREENE: And we're getting some new details now about the timeline of the shooting - you know, sort of the tick tock. What are you learning?

MCCAMMON: Right. So Las Vegas Metropolitan Police - they now say that the first shots were fired Sunday night at 10:05 p.m., and police were on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay hotel where the shooter was staying within 12 minutes. A SWAT team was called in at one point. Police say that a wounded security guard pointed out the shooter's room to them, but it was 75 minutes before they burst into the room, ultimately.

GREENE: Oh, they waited 75 minutes before actually going in.

MCCAMMON: Right, there was a - the police outlined a whole series of events. And again, at one point, they needed to call in a SWAT team for backup. But they say, you know, within 12 minutes, they were there on that floor. They say there were - they could observe cameras on a - I believe, like, a room service cart just outside his room, and that, they said, caused them to be a little more cautious, bring in some backup.

GREENE: A camera on a room service cart - that's interesting. So - and let me just ask you, Sarah - I mean, some of those injured are now being released from hospitals. How are people doing? How are survivors doing as they've - you know, go - we've come a few days away from this?

MCCAMMON: Right. You know, a majority, I guess, are out of the hospital now. More than 300 have been released of the 489 injured. But that still leaves an awful lot of people, you know, still recovering. And even those who've been released will have to recover as well.

GREENE: Yeah - NPR's Sarah McCammon in Las Vegas. Sarah, thanks a lot. We appreciate the update.

MCCAMMON: Thank you.

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GREENE: All right, Rachel, so the clock is really winding down now for thousands of undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

MARTIN: Right, so the Trump administration has stopped accepting any new applications for DACA. This is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. It protects nearly 700,000 of these so-called DREAMers from being deported. Today is the deadline for many current DACA recipients to renew their status.

GREENE: And NPR's Joel Rose has been following this and speaking to some of those DREAMers, and he joins us.

Hi, Joel.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: Hi, David.

GREENE: Remind us why this deadline today is important.

ROSE: So this is the deadline to renew temporary two-year work permits for these DACA recipients for what could be the last time. As you said, the Trump administration announced a month ago, it's phasing out DACA, and it immediately stopped accepting new applications. But the current DACA recipients whose status is set to expire before March of next year - they can apply to extend their status. And that includes a pretty big chunk of the programs. Roughly 150,000 DACA recipients are eligible to extend before this deadline. So there's been a pretty big scramble to get all their paperwork done and to extend their status.

GREENE: And I guess, I mean, just broadly, there's so much uncertainty about this program, what Congress might do. I know you've been speaking to some of the DREAMers in New York. What are they telling you about their life right now?

ROSE: Well, obviously, they're very disappointed that DACA is ending, but I didn't really hear that much surprise from the DREAMers that I spoke to. I mean, they're very focused on getting their status renewed, on extending it, if they can. They're focused on finishing their educations, if they're in college, while they can.

And they're - you know, the ones I talked to - some of them are pretty tired of being a political football in Washington, which they feel like they are perennially. Many of them have never lived anywhere - in any other country - since they were kids, sometimes very little kids. And they'd really like to see some kind of permanent, stable fix so that they can get on, you know, with their lives and their careers in the country that they consider home.

GREENE: Which is something that, in theory, Congress could do, right? I mean, there could be some legislation that Congress could pass. President Trump has challenged Congress to do something. There could be something that would provide a path to citizenship. Some new consensus around DACA - is it - what is the update from Capitol Hill?

ROSE: Well, there's bipartisan support for something, for some kind of relief for the DREAMers. But there are also some really big roadblocks ahead. Immigration hardliners see DACA as a key bargaining chip for the Trump administration, so they want any solution to include funding for the border wall and other immigration priorities.

Immigrant rights advocates, on the other hand, want to protect the DREAMers without any new strings attached, and they would like to see a path to citizenship for these young people. So compromise is possible, but I would not say that it's a given.

GREENE: All right, NPR's Joel Rose. We appreciate it, Joel. Thanks.

ROSE: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MIKTEK'S "FALSE DAWN") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.