Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.), an NRA member and a retired staff sergeant in the Army, wrote an op-ed in The New York Times on Friday calling for a ban on assault weapons following last week’s shooting at a high school in his state that left 17 dead and 14 injured.
“The Second Amendment is unimpeachable,” Mast wrote. “It guarantees the right of citizens to defend themselves. I accept, however, that it does not guarantee that every civilian can bear any and all arms.”
Mast recalled his deployment in Afghanistan and the M4 Carbine that he carried during that time.
“My rifle was very similar to the AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon used to kill students, teachers and a coach I knew at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where I once lived,” wrote Mast, who faces a competitive reelection race this fall.
“I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill children I swore to defend,” he added.
Mast said Congress would have to decide how to define what constitutes an assault weapon before agreeing to a ban.
“But we should all be able to agree that the civilian version of the very deadly weapon that the Army issued to me should certainly qualify,” he wrote in the Times.
The Hill added:
The shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has led to a renewed national debate over guns and school shootings.
The accused gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, allegedly carried out the attack with an AR-15, an assault-style rifle that he purchased legally from a dealer in nearby Coral Springs roughly a year earlier.
President Trump has inched toward supporting new restrictions on guns, but has been more vocal about ending gun-free zones and schools and arming teachers and administrators who could fire back at a shooter.
Trump opposes an assault weapon ban, as do most Republicans in the House.
“The president, House of Representatives, Senate, every state legislature, sheriffs, police officers, school boards, students and parents must unite with one mission: that no one will ever be murdered in school again,” Mast wrote.