Sen. Rand Paul is open to discussions about the restrictions surrounding bump stocks – the device used by the Las Vegas gunman to boost the firing speed of semi-automatic weapons – but he says he needs to study the issue in more detail.
After a roundtable in Lexington with coal industry leaders Friday, Paul hinted at the possibility of strengthening bump stock rules without new legislation through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, but he cautioned the reforms would do little to address the root cause of violence.
"The interesting thing though is no rule probably would have stopped him," Paul told reporters. "You might have been able to stop him from having the thing that made it an automatic rifle, but there's also millions of those out there."
Paul indicated he expects Congress will debate bump stock changes backed by the National Rifle Association, but he described the nation’s violence problem as a “spiritual” in nature – a diagnosis reminiscent of Gov. Matt Bevin’s assessment of rising homicide rates in Louisville.
"There is sort of, I think you could say, a spiritual problem the country has," the Bowling Green lawmaker said. "It's just like, I'm not a preacher. I'm not a pastor. I can't fix the country's spiritual problem... but I'm not saying we do nothing."
The senator, who witnessed gunfire that wounded Rep. Steve Scalise at a baseball game in June, said even if Congress banned all guns tomorrow, the shooter still could have waged his massive assault on concertgoers in Nevada's largest city. Paul said finding the right balance of government intervention is "not easy."
"There are people who are really into hunting and use guns, and this is the vast majority of people, for normal purposes," Paul added.
Another Math Problem On Tax Reform?
Kentucky’s junior U.S. senator is once again proving harder to corral than many of his colleagues on the issue of tax reform. But Paul appears reasonably confident the party can get to 50 votes on a tax bill.
With Senate Republicans looking to notch a major legislative victory after the collapse of healthcare reform efforts, all eyes are on critics of the GOP’s tax reform framework – and Paul is already airing his objections.
In an op-ed published on Breitbart, the Bowling Green lawmaker lobbies for an across-the-board tax cut, something he worries the framework doesn’t provide. Paul told WUKY troubling elements caught his attention in the current plan.
"I'm concerned that the way it's set up now, there might be a tax increase for the middle class, so my staff is working and agitating and talking to people in the White House to say you guys need to be very careful that we don't make a middle class tax cut increase," the senator said.
Paul joins another potential “no” vote, outgoing Tennessee Senator Bob Corker – who is sounding the alarm on possible deficit increases under the framework. But Paul says he thinks there is a “very high chance” the Senate will get to tax reform.