Rep. Brian Mast, R-Florida, says that a ban on assault weapons in the wake of the latest school shooting in Parkland, Florida, could gain crucial support from President Trump. While any new gun restrictions face an uphill battle in Congress, Mast called Mr. Trump a “man of action” who could get behind such a ban.
“I don’t have the numbers, but I think we can get the president on board and members of Congress onboard to say, ‘Let’s put that same kind of pause on onboard right now where we look at who’s having access, what do they have access to,'” said Mast.
He added, “Let’s get back to the American people after this pause with sensible regulation with sensible solutions because we are going to look at this in a very real way. It made sense in the case of terrorists coming into this country. I think it should make sense in looking at guns.”
Mast, a U.S. Army combat veteran who lost both of his legs in an explosion in Iraq, had a change of heart on guns following the shooting, writing an op-ed in the New York Times calling for an assault weapons ban.
“For me, personally, it pains me to know that I went out there willing to defend my country, willing to give everything with almost the exact same weapon that’s used to go out there and unfortunately kill children here in Parkland,” he said when asked about the shift. “I think there’s a very real opportunity here for response in here for action.”
So far, the president has signaled he would be open to raising the age limit for purchasing high-capacity weapons and called for draft regulations that would ban “bump stock” devices. He also has proposed a more controversial means of protecting students from similar mass shootings — arming their teachers.
Fellow Florida Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat, said such a proposal is a “distraction.”
“It’s a distraction from the important discussion about all of the things that can be done right now this week when we go back to Washington on mental health, banning bump stocks, universal background checks, preventing people on the terror watch list from getting guns. Those aren’t controversial. Everyone supports them. So that’s what we need to focus on,” said Deutch.
Mast appeared to disagree with Deutch, saying some teachers might be the “right candidates” for such a proposal.
He noted, however, that teachers “are people too. They can leave a firearm laying around. They don’t necessarily have training in identifying the threat and identifying the innocent. And you have to make sure that they get the appropriate level of training.”
As investigators continue to investigate the missed red flags on suspected Florida gunman Nikolas Cruz, Deutch says lawmakers expect to learn more from an FBI briefing on the matter.
“We need to find out exactly what happened, why it was that there were so many signals not just from the visits but the social media postings, there is so much that has happened the FBI has admitted that the call came in and that was missed,” Deutch said.
He added, “I also expect and I know those of us the delegation from down here especially is interested in getting a full briefing once all of the information is available about- about these missed signs about what happened. It’s vital for us to do that at the same time that we work together inspired by these survivors to take action to prevent this from happening again.”
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