WINTER HAVEN (FOX 13) - Polk County sheriff Grady Judd is calling on Congress to ban devices that can make non-automatic firearms function like automatic firearms.
Reacting to the Las Vegas shooting spree that killed 59 people Sunday, the sheriff said it is time for Congress to act, and to do so quickly, and responsibly.
Judd, who calls himself “an absolute proponent of the Second Amendment,” said the shooting in Las Vegas left him “furious beyond words.”
“This week, I observed a horrific act by a deranged man who was pure evil. Innocent Americans -- some of the finest in the country, were viciously murdered,” he said in a statement.
Investigators said the Las Vegas shooter equipped some of his guns with “bump stocks” allowing the firearms to shoot like automatic weapons, which fire multiple rounds while holding down the trigger. They are heavily regulated in the United States and it is extremely difficult for civilians to purchase them. By comparison, semi-automatic rifles fire a single round for each trigger pull. Some of the most popular firearms in the U.S. are semi-automatic rifles.
Perched on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, and equipped with rifles that shot like machine guns, the Las Vegas shooter took aim on 22,000 country music fans attending a festival across the street. Hundreds were wounded. Dozens died. It is the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
Judd said he stands behind the constitutional right for individuals “to keep and bear arms” and “I strongly support and encourage responsible citizens owning guns to protect themselves and their families.”
The carnage unleashed by the Las Vegas gunman, however, moved him to take a firm position on the issue.
“As Sheriff, and as a father and grandfather, I am calling on Congress to outlaw” these devices, he added in the statement.
Judd said lawmakers should craft a single-topic law dealing only with the issue. He said Congress should not be tempted to weigh it down with “any other political agenda items" and the time is now for bipartisan leadership.
Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, of Florida, sponsored a bill to ban the sale of “bump stocks."
“I’m a hunter and have owned guns my whole life,” Nelson said. “These automatic weapons are not for hunting, they are for killing."
Banning bump stocks is “common-sense," he added.
Whether Nelson’s proposal becomes law remains to be seen. History suggests the odds are against him.
Calls for tougher gun control laws follow every mass shooting, yet they fail nearly every time. This time may be different. Several top republicans, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, of Florida, and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, of South Carolina, said they’re open to legislation on bump stocks.
The senate’s No. 2 Republican, Sen. John Cornyn, of Texas, said “I think that’s our right as Americans” to own guns, “but I don’t understand the use of this bump stock. It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on."