Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), who has had a fairly moderate voting record on gun control legislation for most of his career, now claims he will support a legislative measure to ban assault weapons. Though, he claims it is unlikely that Congress will pass a “perfect solution.”
According to The Washington Post, Warner explained, “You change the trigger, you change the sight, and some weapons are in, some weapons are out. There’s not going to be a perfect solution.”
He notes that passing such gun legislation through a republican-controlled Congress is tough. “But the notion that just because it’s hard we shouldn’t do it — I just don’t think we can sit through more of the mass murders and not take action,” Warner said.
Warner has maintained a moderate voting record on gun legislation throughout his career, earning him a “C” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). However, the Virginia Senator has been implying that he may be warming to vote in favor of a new version of an assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004 and has not been moved to a congressional vote until 2013 after the Sandy Hook massacre.
He was one of only 15 Democrats to oppose the ban at the time. Since the vote, seven of those have retired or lost reelection bids.
In 1994, the original ban was put in place in the wake of mass shootings at a San Francisco law firm that killed eight people and injured six more and one on a a Long Island Railroad train that left five dead and 19 wounded. The ban, crafted by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), was set to reduce the frequency and deadliness of mass shootings.
The law banned specific models of assault weapons and those which had “military-style features.” Moreover, it put bans on high-capacity magazines which held more than 10 bullets.
Warner appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” last Sunday and said he would “reexamine” the idea of an assault weapons ban and additional gun control legislation.
“I had always been in favor of universal background checks, particularly after Sandy Hook, but I think it’s time for us to have a legitimate debate about restrictions on gun magazines and assault weapons,” he said. “You get into definitions, but the basic notion of these weaponized, militarized weapons need to be off our streets.”
Warner’s notion of reexamination is another example of the increased political courage from Democrats on furthering gun control measures. Though, the Senator says he will only support a ban if it is structured the right way by Congress as candidates in Republican-leaning and swing states may be vulnerable in reelection bids after a measure is forwarded.
Even the Democratic National Committee (DNC) realizes this. In 2016, the DNC’s legislative platform said their proposed measures would, “keep weapons of war — such as assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines (LCAM’s) — off our streets.”
Although there is increasing pressure for congressional action on gun control measures after the Parkland shooting and the subsequent March for Lives in cities across America, the current assault weapons legislation only has 22 Senate Democrats supporting it. Nevertheless, as yet another protest is being organized for April 20th, the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, there will undoubtedly by more pressure put on Democrats to vote to follow through with an assault weapons ban.