The US Congress on Tuesday shelved a controversial plan to make it easier to purchase gun silencers, as President Donald Trump signalled a future debate about the nation’s gun laws was possible.
The announcement about the bill came days after the tragic shooting massacre in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“That bill is not scheduled now,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters, referring to a measure that also includes language making it more difficult to classify certain ammunition as “armour piercing.”
“I don’t know when it’s going to be scheduled,” Ryan added. “Right now we’re focused on passing our budget.”
The Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act advanced through a key House committee in mid-September, setting up a possible floor vote.
Following the Las Vegas shooting, in which a retiree murdered 59 people and wounded more than 500 when he sprayed a festival crowd with gunfire, gun-control groups and several Democrats warned that the measure would only make it more difficult to locate such shooters.
The devices, also known as suppressors, do not eliminate gunshot noise entirely.
One of the bill’s sponsors Republican Jeff Duncan, argues that reducing gun noise is a safety issue for hunters.
Trump, who said he will visit Las Vegas on Wednesday, signalled that a debate about gun control might be coming.
“We’ll be talking about gun laws as time goes on,” he said.
Asked specifically about the House measure to ease restrictions on silencers, the president said: “We’ll talk about that later.”
Democrat Hillary Clinton, whom Trump defeated in the 2016 election, was among those expressing concern about easing access to silencers.
“The crowd fled at the sound of gunshots,” Clinton tweeted on Monday. “Imagine the deaths if the shooter had a silencer.”
Debate on the measure stalled after number three House Republican Steve Scalise was gravely injured in June at a congressional charity baseball practice.
Scalise returned to Congress last week to standing ovations, and on Tuesday he briefly addressed the Las Vegas tragedy.
“Those families need our prayers right now. They need to be uplifted,” he said.
Ryan also spoke out against the “horror” of the shooting but stressed that “we can not let the actions of a single person define us as a country”.
Some Democrats, like Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, where a shooter murdered 20 schoolchildren in 2012, demanded prompt debate on gun control.
“Your cowardice to act cannot be whitewashed by thoughts and prayers,” Murphy tweeted to his colleagues. “None of this ends unless we do something to stop it.”
Stephen Paddock, 64, was a multi-millionaire real estate investor.