President Obama has indicated that he wants the AR-15 banned following the tragic mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub that left nearly 50 people dead and many more wounded. The AR-15 ban would require an Act of Congress and would likely involve reinstating a federal ban that lapsed in 2004.
The White House has adopted the position that the AR-15 is a “weapon of war” that has no legitimate civilian use. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest outlined the position at a press briefing on Monday.
“These assault weapons are weapons of war,” Earnest told the press pool. “And they have no place in the hands of a legitimate hunter, or what’s much more likely is that a weapon of war is going to end up in the hands of someone like this who will be able to carry out a much more violent act because they’re using a weapon that is intended not for the streets of Orlando, but for a battlefield.”
Earnest also made it clear that the administration considers the AR-15 to be a “weapon of war” that should be eliminated under a reinstated Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
In a statement to Reuters, President Obama did not call for the AR-15 to be banned, but he did suggest that the sale of “very powerful firearms” be subject to additional regulations.
“We are also going to have to make sure that we think about the risks we are willing to take by being so lax in how we make very powerful firearms to people in this country,” President Obama told Reuters.
In an interview with CBS This Morning, Hillary Clinton also referred to guns like the AR-15 as “weapons of war” and advocated for universal background checks. When asked how she plans to institute universal background checks, or reinstate the lapsed assault weapons ban, if she becomes president, Clinton said she hopes to find support from gun owners.
“Well, I could only hope that people who are responsible gun owners will join us in this cause. How many more of these mass tragedies do we have to live through?” Clinton asked on CBS This Morning. “Let’s keep weapons of war off our streets like the one that was used in Orlando.”
Both Obama and Clinton have also suggested that people who are placed on the “no-fly list” should be barred from purchasing firearms, which is a position Clinton reiterated on CBS This Morning.
“What more can we do?” Clinton asked. “How can we have a better database? And I go back to saying that Congress needs to pass the provision that stops people on the no-fly list from buying guns in America. And we need to make sure that people who come to the attention of our law enforcement are on that list.”
President Obama’s press secretary echoed that point at a press briefing on Monday.
“But again, common-sense steps like closing the loophole that allows individuals who are on the no-fly list from buying a gun. The President’s principle here is pretty straightforward: If it’s too dangerous for you to board an airplane, then it should be too dangerous for you to walk into a gun store and buy a gun.”
Earnest also addressed the assault weapons ban when a reporter asked him whether the AR-15 even qualifies as an assault rifle under the terms of that ban. The reporter pointed out that the AR-15 is a very popular weapon that was “tweaked” in response to the ban, and that reinstating the old ban may not prevent future sales of the weapon.
“I will acknowledge that the technology behind some of these firearms and the way that they comport with certain aspects of certain pieces of legislation is complicated,” Earnest said of the AR-15. “I’m certainly not an expert in them. But there had previously been an assault weapons ban in place that took weapons of war off our streets, certainly did not allow an individual to walk into a gun store and walk out that same day with a weapon of war, with a weapon that belongs on the battlefield. And the President strongly supports legislation that would do that.”
The expired ban specifically made it illegal to “manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon.” It also placed limitations on features like folding stocks, pistol grips, bayonet mounts, and magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds, according to the text of the bill.
According to a report from ABC News, the Orlando shooter used 30-round magazines that would have been illegal under the terms of the lapsed ban.
The shooter also carried a Glock 17 9mm handgun that, unmodified, has a standard magazine of 15 rounds, according to Rolling Stone.
Do you think that Congress should reinstate the expired assault weapons ban like President Obama wants, and should the AR-15 be subject to a specific ban above and beyond the language of the original bill?
[Photo by AP Photo/Cliff Owen]