Sen. Angus King On Whether We Need To Ban 'Assault Weapons'

Maine’s independent Senator Angus King was on Morning Joe to talk, in part, about the tragedy Sunday in Texas. They asked Sen. King if he was troubled about the Air Force’s failure to input the killer’s domestic violence conviction into the NICS. He was also asked about an assault weapon ban.


The relevant discussion started about the 6:20 mark.

King was doing pretty well for a while there. He’s absolutely right that so-called “assault rifles” are basically guns that are functionally no different than hunting rifles, just having a handful of cosmetic features that look scary. Assault weapon bans don’t actually make anyone safer, they just allow politicians to look like they’re doing something.

Unfortunately, King seemed more than willing to put magazine capacity on the table for discussion, which is a non-starter for the vast majority of gun rights advocates.

Then it veers into the realm of “do hunters need” and King fails to note one very important fact: The Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting.

For all the kvetching about AR-15s and other so-called “assault rifles,” the media is failing to note that while it may have been too late for the dead in the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, other deaths may well have been averted because this bad man with an AR-15 was confronted by a good guy with a gun, an NRA member and former NRA certified instructor with a gun…an AR-15.


A firearm is a tool. It’s used by hero and villain alike, and no case illustrates this nearly as well as this horrific tale does.

Let’s not forget that this tragedy happened just days after a terrorist used a truck to mow down and kill eight innocent people in New York City. Horrific acts will always take place unless we start to decide to stop trying to take away the rights of innocent people because of the acts of a deranged few and start to delve into the minutia of why these people get violent.

The killer in Texas had a history of violence, a history so severe it should have barred him from buying firearms in the first place. As Sen. King correctly noted, “[W]e can continue to refine and improve the background check. We found a gap in it in this case.” The gap comes in the form of the Air Force not submitting the necessary information to the NICS.

But the last thing we need is another assault weapon ban or a cap on magazine capacity.

It’s time for politicians to stop punishing the innocent for the actions of the deranged. As we saw in New York, the deranged will continue to find a way, yet the innocent are the ones would will continue to pay the price time and again because lawmakers simply have to be seen to “do something” and it’s too messy to try and figure out why people like the Texas killer turn to violence.


Regardless of the weapon, violence is still violence. It doesn’t matter what the weapon is, and like Sen. King notes, the guns we’re talking about are functionally no different than the hunting rifles anti-gun advocates try to say they have no interest in taking (pro tip: they’re lying). However, Sen. King is wrong to point to the magazine as a point of discussion. The magazine is irrelevant.

What is relevant is the murderous intent. Until we deal with that, we’re always going to have tragedies like New York, Las Vegas, and Sutherland Springs.

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