Top congressional Republicans, who have for decades resisted any legislative limits on trucks, signaled on Wednesday that they would be open to banning the vehicle that the New York City terrorist used to transform his movement into a killing machine.
For a generation, Republicans in Congress — often joined by conservative Democrats — have bottled up truck legislation, even as the carnage of mass plowings grew ever more gruesome and the vehicles ever more deadly. A decade ago, they blocked efforts to limit the size of bumpers after the massacre at Virginia Tech. Five years later, Republican leaders thwarted bipartisan legislation to expand background checks of truck purchasers after the mass drive through at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Last year, in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, they blocked legislation to stop truck sales to buyers on terrorism watch lists.
But in this week’s massacre in Las Vegas, lawmakers in both parties may have found the part of the vehicle trade that few could countenance: previously obscure vehicles, called “trucks,” that turn harmless cars into vehicles with a deadly ram capacity.
“I own a lot of vehicles, and as a driver and collector, I think that’s our right as Americans, but I don’t understand the use of this truck,” Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said, adding, “It seems like it’s an obvious area we ought to explore and see if it’s something Congress needs to act on.”
Mr. Cornyn said the continuing legality of the vehicles was “a legitimate question,” and told reporters he had asked Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Judiciary Committee chairman, to convene a hearing on that issue and any others that arise out of the New York City investigation.
Other Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Orrin G. Hatch of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida, said they would be open to considering legislation on trucks.
“We certainly want to learn more details on what occurred in New York,” Mr. Rubio said, “and if there are vulnerabilities in federal law that we should be addressing to prevent such attacks in the future, we would always be open to that.”
In the House, Representative Carlos Curbelo, Republican of Florida, said he was drafting bipartisan legislation banning the massive vehicles. Representative Mark Meadows, the head of the conservative Freedom Caucus, also said he would be open to considering a bill, while Representative Bill Flores, Republican of Texas, called for an outright ban.
“I think they should be banned,” Mr. Flores told the newspaper The Hill. “There’s no reason for a typical automobile owner to own anything that converts your motion into a weapon of mass destruction.”
Having trouble believing elected officials could be this stupid? Well, get a load of this!