Paul Ryan: Congress needs to examine gun 'bump stock' devices

WASHINGTON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - A backlash against "bump stock" gun accessories, which enable rifles to be turned into rapid-fire guns, grew in the U.S. Congress on Thursday as House Speaker Paul Ryan opened the door to possible debate on controlling the devices.

"Clearly that's something we need to look into," Ryan told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, referring to the accessories. He added that many lawmakers in the Republican-controlled Congress had not been aware until now that such devices existed. An excerpt from the interview aired on MSNBC.

SEE ALSO: Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock kept firing for 10 minutes, police say

The National Rifle Association, a powerful opponent of most gun control initiatives, so far has been silent on whether it would support or oppose efforts in Congress to ban or control bump stocks.

A shooting rampage on Sunday night in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and wounded nearly 500, the most deadly mass shooting in modern U.S. history, has reignited debate around regulation of firearms.

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Heartbreaking scenes from Las Vegas shooting vigils and memorial services
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Heartbreaking scenes from Las Vegas shooting vigils and memorial services
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 2: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Late Sunday night, a lone gunman killed more than 50 people and injured more than 500 people after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music festival. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: People gather at the Ascend Amphitheater for a vigil honoring the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. At least 58 people were killed and 500 wounded at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 2: UNLV students reflect on words of wisdom dispersed during a candle light vigil for the victims of the mass shootings that killed 59 people and injured more than 525, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 2, 2017. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: People gather at the Ascend Amphitheater for a vigil honoring the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. At least 58 people were killed and 500 wounded at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: People hand out candles at the Ascend Amphitheater for a vigil honoring the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. At least 58 people were killed and 500 wounded at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: Singers/Songwriters Alison Krauss and The Cox Family perform during Nashville Candelight Vigil For Las Vegas at Ascend Amphitheater on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: People light candles at the Ascend Amphitheater for a vigil honoring the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. At least 58 people were killed and 500 wounded at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
A woman mourns during an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
People mourn during an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
People mourn after an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: People gather at the Ascend Amphitheater for a vigil honoring the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. At least 58 people were killed and 500 wounded at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: Sophie Cass, 10, hands out candles at the Ascend Amphitheater for a vigil honoring the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. At least 58 people were killed and 500 wounded at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: The Rev. Paul Goulet (L) and the Rev. David Shearin light candles during a prayer vigil outside Las Vegas City Hall in response to Sunday's mass shooting on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A lone gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on October 1 leaving 59 dead and hundreds wounded. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: A stack of #VegasStrong flyers are displayed during a prayer vigil outside Las Vegas City Hall in response to Sunday's mass shooting on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A lone gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on October 1 leaving 59 dead and hundreds wounded. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: People gather during a candlelight vigil for victims of the Las Vegas shooting at Ascend Amphitheater on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: People gather during a candlelight vigil for victims of the Las Vegas shooting at Ascend Amphitheater on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: General view during Nashville Candelight Vigil For Las Vegas at Ascend Amphitheater on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: Dominic De Patta of Nevada holds a candle and a #VegasStrong flyer during a prayer vigil outside Las Vegas City Hall in response to Sunday's mass shooting on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A lone gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on October 1, leaving 59 dead and hundreds wounded. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: People gather during a candlelight vigil for victims of the Las Vegas shooting at Ascend Amphitheater on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
People mourn after an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A girl attends an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Pastor William McCurdy (C) attends a prayer vigil, in honor of those affected by the shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, in front of Las Vegas City Hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus
People mourn during an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 2: UNLV students and their families gather during a candle light vigil for the victims of the mass shootings that killed 59 people and injured more than 525, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 2, 2017. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 2: A UNLV student reflects on the message given during a candle light vigil for the victims of the mass shootings that killed 59 people and injured more than 525, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 2, 2017. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 2: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Late Sunday night, a lone gunman killed more than 50 people and injured more than 500 people after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music festival. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: The Rev. David Shearin (L) and the Rev. Mike Hatch hold candles as they pray during a prayer vigil outside Las Vegas City Hall in response to Sunday's mass shooting on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A lone gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on October 1 leaving 59 dead and hundreds wounded. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 2: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Late Sunday night, a lone gunman killed more than 50 people and injured more than 500 people after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music festival. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: People gather during a candlelight vigil for victims of the Las Vegas shooting at Ascend Amphitheater on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: Jon Dimaya (C) of Nevada, a rapid response team nurse at Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, and his sons Ethan Dimaya (L) and Gryffin Dimaya (R) hold signs during a prayer vigil outside Las Vegas City Hall in response to Sunday's mass shooting on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A lone gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on October 1, leaving 59 dead and hundreds wounded. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 02: People gather at the Ascend Amphitheater for a vigil honoring the victims of the mass shooting in Las Vegas on October 2, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. At least 58 people were killed and 500 wounded at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Sunday night. (Photo by Joe Buglewicz/Getty Images)
A man mourns during an interfaith memorial service for victims of the Route 91 music festival mass shooting outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
Alexander Wells, 9, attends a prayer vigil, in honor of those affected by the shooting on the Las Vegas Strip, in front of Las Vegas City Hall in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Las Vegas Sun/Steve Marcus
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 2: Mourners light candles during a vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Late Sunday night, a lone gunman killed more than 50 people and injured more than 500 people after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music festival. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 2: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Late Sunday night, a lone gunman killed more than 50 people and injured more than 500 people after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music festival. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 2: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Late Sunday night, a lone gunman killed more than 50 people and injured more than 500 people after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music festival. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 2: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Late Sunday night, a lone gunman killed more than 50 people and injured more than 500 people after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music festival. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 2: UNLV students reflect on words of wisdom dispersed during a candle light vigil for the victims of the mass shootings that killed 59 people and injured more than 525, in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Oct. 2, 2017. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: A music group performs during a vigil at Guardian Angel Cathedral for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: A woman touches a staue of the Blessed Mother Mary during a vigil at Guardian Angel Cathedral for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: A vigil on the Las Vegas strip for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: Aryanna Williams, 6, and Mickey Deustch, 8, of Las Vegas, Nevada attend a vigil on the Las Vegas strip for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 2: Mourners attend a candlelight vigil at the corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard for the victims of Sunday night's mass shooting, October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Late Sunday night, a lone gunman killed more than 50 people and injured more than 500 people after he opened fire on a large crowd at the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music festival. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
A sign is pictured at a vigil on the Las Vegas strip following a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. Picture taken October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
A police officer writes a message on a sign at a vigil on the Las Vegas strip following a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. Picture taken October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
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Officials said 12 of the rifles authorities recovered from a hotel suite in Las Vegas used by gunman Stephen Paddock were fitted with bump stocks, allowing the guns to fire almost as though they were automatic weapons.

"I didn't even know what they were until this week," Ryan said, referring to bump stocks. "I think we're quickly coming up to speed with what this is."

Ryan and other leading Republicans have not embraced specific legislation, however.

The House speaker's remarks followed a call on Wednesday by the U.S. Senate's No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn, for lawmakers to investigate bump stocks, as Democrats pushed for a ban on the devices.

On Thursday, Republican House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte also said the matter should be looked into.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said at a weekly press conference that Congress should promptly pass legislation toughening background checks on gun buyers. She also touted Democratic legislation stopping bump stocks.

"Hopefully we can bring that to the floor and at least pass a bill that bans, something that enables a shooter to spray murderous automatic fire on innocent people," Pelosi said.

Republican Representative Carlos Curbelo was preparing his own measure to ban the ownership, manufacture and transport of the devices.

While he said there was growing bipartisan consensus, he cautioned against assuming that a legislative win was certain.

"Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We hope that there will be a breakthrough," Curbelo told reporters, adding, "But I think this is just such a blatant exploitation of the law, a circumvention of the law."

Indeed, Republican Senator Dean Heller, who could face a tough re-election fight next year, told Fox News, "We're going to have this conversation, but let me be clear, I'm not interested in watering down the Second Amendment."

Republicans, and some Democrats, are generally reluctant to push for tighter controls on firearms ownership, which is protected by the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Automatic weapons have been largely illegal for decades, but bump stock devices offer a way around that.

Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein has called for bump stocks to be banned.

Representative David Cicilline, also a Democrat, has proposed a ban too, with a House bill that he said has 148 co-sponsors. None are Republicans, he told CNN, although he is talking with about five or six conservatives to seek their support.

In the interview with Ryan aired by MSNBC, the top House Republican gave no other details about what action the Republican-controlled House might take toward bump stock devices, or what the timeline would be for any legislative steps. Republicans also control the Senate and the White House.

(Writing by Susan Heavey and Richard Cowan; reporting by Doina Chiacu and Amanda Becker; Editing by Frances Kerry and Andrew Hay)

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