WASHINGTON – Rep. Bill Foster (D-Ill.) told PJM that the federal government should prohibit people from carrying military-style guns in public and require them to be “locked away” in gun clubs.
Stephen Paddock used semiautomatic rifles in Sunday’s attack on a Las Vegas music festival; the ATF said Tuesday that 12 “bump fire stocks” to simulate the rapid fire of an automatic were found with the guns in the Mandalay Bay hotel room used as a sniper’s nest. The federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004, outlawed the production of certain semiautomatic weapons as well as “high-capacity magazines.” The ban was not renewed.
“I would hope that when you look at what’s happened with mass shootings in the last years that we, at a minimum, establish the principle that if you are going to own a military-type weapon that should be locked away in a gun club and not carried in public – that is completely consistent with the Second Amendment and it’s a principle that we should apply nationally,” Foster told PJM at a rally outside of the Supreme Court on Tuesday about ending “partisan gerrymandering.”
Foster said banning individuals from carrying assault weapons in public is “absolutely not” a violation of the Second Amendment.
“A well-regulated militia is completely consistent with having military-style arms put under lock-and-key in a regulated environment,” he said.
Foster explained that he would support another federal assault weapons ban but said it would be tough to resurrect the policy given that Democrats are the minority in Congress.
“If we can get at least the principle that assault weapons are things that are locked away in gun clubs, if someone owns one at all, that would solve most of the problems we are facing with mass killings in this country,” he said.
Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) said that Congress should not allow gun manufacturers to produce “military-style” weapons for sale to the public.
“The [congressional] leadership is under the control, at least tremendously under the control of the NRA, and people think it’s the individual members of the NRA that are driving this. It is not the individual members. Individual members of the NRA know we need gun safety,” he said. “It is the gun manufacturers who are paying the freight and do not want limitations placed upon the manufacturing of assault weapons and silencers – that’s who is driving this debate, that’s who is telling the American public, ‘Be damned, we are going to sell these weapons of mass destruction.’”
Lowenthal agreed with Foster that Congress should resurrect the long-expired assault weapons ban.
“We should not be selling guns of mass destruction like that. Those are not guns that are used for people to defend themselves in their homes. Those are guns that are just used to kill hundreds and injure hundreds of people. They’re not really used for self-defense. They are offensive weapons, that’s what they were designed to be, plus we don’t have a system of really complete background checks,” Lowenthal said at the Supreme Court event.
“We have the weakest laws to protect Americans. It has to end,” he added. “This is really the American gun manufacturers who are leading this, not the individuals who are members of the NRA. It’s the manufactures that need to be stopped and that’s what we need to deal with: the manufacturers’ right to produce anything.”
After his speech at the anti-gerrymandering rally, former Republican California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked if he thinks Congress should pass an assault weapons ban but he declined to respond.
Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) told PJM that legislation requiring universal background checks on all gun sales would pass in the House and Senate if the GOP leadership put it up for a vote on the floor.
“We can’t get it on the floor because of the control of the far right,” he said.