-- As she expressed her condolences to the victims of a mass shooting in Las Vegas, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also sharply criticized the National Rifle Association and a bill working its way through Congress that would make it easier to buy gun silencers.
At least 58 people were killed and 515 were injured late Sunday night after a gunman opened fire on a crowd at a country music concert from a window on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
"The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots. Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer, which the NRA wants to make easier to get," wrote Clinton on Twitter Monday morning after first saying she was grieving with "the victims, those who lost loved ones, the responders, & all affected by this cold-blooded massacre."
"Our grief isn't enough. We can and must put politics aside, stand up to the NRA, and work together to try to stop this from happening again," she added.
It appeared Clinton was referencing the Hearing Protection Act, introduced by Reps. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., and John Carter, R-Texas, in January and now part of the omnibus Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act, a bill self-described "to provide for the preservation of sportsmen’s heritage and enhance recreation opportunities on Federal land, and for other purposes."
The Hearing Protection Act removes silencers from the Internal Revenue Code's definition of "firearms," which could ultimately make it easier for individuals to purchase them without the background checks required for firearm buyers. It further eliminates a $200 tax on the sound suppressors.
Critics of the bill believe that the sound of a gunshot is a safety feature that alerts others to potential danger, while supporters argue that silencers protect the hearing of gun owners. A release from the NRA Institute for Legislative Action in January applauded the bill, calling silencers "tool[s] necessary to reduce [hearing] loss" that are "onerously regulated and taxed."
Duncan himself released a statement at the time in which he said his hearing had been "damaged because of gun noise."
"Had I had access to a suppressor, it may have protected me, as well as millions of other Americans, from this sort of hearing loss," said the congressman.
Asked about Clinton's comments at Monday's White House press briefing, press secretary Sarah Sanders said she has not spoken with President Donald Trump about his stance on the specific issue of silencers and downplayed talk of "preventions" before learning all of the facts of the shooting.
"It's very easy for Mrs. Clinton to criticize and to come out, but I think we need to remember the only person with blood on their hands is that of the shooter, and this isn't a time for us to go after individuals or organizations," said Sanders. "I think that we can have those policy conversations, but today is not that day."