Another Democratic Senator Comes Out Against Assault Weapons Ban
The prospects of an assault weapons ban actually making it through Congress appear to be growing dimmer by the day. During yesterday’s hearings on gun control, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy made it clear that he was not at all inclined to support such a ban, which means it may have a rough time in committee. Even if it got out of committee, though, several Red State Democrats have made their opposition clear, the latest being Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor:
As a coalition of gun control advocates pushes for a new federal Assault Weapons Ban, U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman of Arkansas say they cannot support California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s bill. Pryor says the objective should be to lessen gun violence not violate people’s constitutional rights.
“I think everyone agrees that the goal here is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, and young people while at the same time protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” Pryor said. “The question is, how do we do this and how do we lessen the gun violence? I will continue to look at proposals here and also listen to Arkansans and law enforcement.”
Pryor says the bill is cumbersome, confusing, and includes about 100 pages that list specific weapons. He says there are no details on why certain guns are banned and others are accepted. Senator Boozman says people have the right to arm themselves.
“What I would like for us to do is have a real dialogue as to the cause of the violence,” Boozman said. ” I really feel like the gun is more the tool and it’s not the cause of the action. I don’t think disarming law-abiding people is the answer, or that it would really make that much of a difference.”
Both Boozman and Pryor say there should be more of a focus on putting additional cops on the streets and improving mental health services.
It’s not at all surprising to see Pryor hedging his bets here. He’s running for re-election in 2014 in a state that Mitt Romney won easily, and which has only gone Republican twice since 1980, and those were times when a popular former Arkansas Governor was at the top of the Democratic ticket. Additionally, Pryor has always had a strong record i support of the 2nd Amendment so it’s not really surprising that he would take this position. Although it’s worth noting that Pryor did vote in favor of renewing the 1994 ban when it came up in 2004. Although he wasn’t running for re-election that year.
Pryor isn’t the first Red State Democrat to take this position, and he won’t be the last. What this suggests is that an assault weapons ban may not even make it through the Senate, never mind the House of Representatives.