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Lawmaker: Second Amendment Applies to Muskets, So Eliminate Assault Weapons

WASHINGTON – Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.C.) joined other Democrats to call for the reinstatement of the federal assault weapons ban, arguing that the Second Amendment only applies to muskets.

“This is something as a non-lawyer that I have had trouble with from the very beginning. When the framers of our Constitution considered the Second Amendment, they were talking about muskets,” Coleman said during a news conference outside of the Capitol Building on Tuesday.

“There are so many gun laws we need to impose that would protect our communities more and more and more and eliminating assault weapons is definitely at the very top, as well as limiting who can get ammunition and whether or not you can buy it online. It’s something I have supported and I sponsored,” Coleman added.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who attended the press conference with Coleman, told PJM the Democrats “absolutely” missed an opportunity to bring back the assault weapons ban when the party controlled Congress from 2009-11 with President Obama in the White House.

“I think we had an opportunity four years after 2004 under Bush where it was undone - that was my first year,” he said. “In 2009, during that period which we had the majority all around, there was an opportunity to incrementally, if not all at once, reinstate the ban. We didn’t, and hindsight is all it’s worth — hindsight. I think it’s something we should have done.”

A MoveOn.org activist attended the press conference with the lawmakers and presented them with a petition that he said was signed by 1.2 million individuals.

Coleman said the “only reason you have an assault weapon is because you want to kill quickly and you want to create as many fatalities as possible.”

“These are weapons of war and they have no place in a civil society,” she said. “So we will stand here with the 1.2 million people and even more who didn’t sign onto this petition but believe wholeheartedly that assault weapons should be banned.”

Next page: A Republican who wants to vote for the ban.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) told PJM he would vote for the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban.

“I voted for it in ’94, yeah,” he said. “It should be reinstated. I would vote for it.”

When asked about opposition to the ban from conservative lawmakers and NRA members, King said, “They feel it doesn’t work and they have their honest differences.”

Last year, President Obama announced a ban on the federal transfer of some military style weapons to police departments, including firearms and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher.

PJM asked Grijalva if a federal assault weapons ban should be extended to police departments.

“No, well, that’s kind of like a ‘did you stop beating your wife question.’ I’m not going to bite,” he replied.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said she had not talked to law enforcement personnel to see if there are any “occasions or riot situations” where they might need an assault weapon.

“That has not been an issue. I don’t know. The kind of police violence — police misconduct has not really been an issue of assault weapons. I don’t know if it ought to be extended. The only use of assault weapons is to shoot as many people as possible in the shortest period of time,” she said. “I haven’t really thought of the role of police in that.”