Colorado Democratic Gov. Jared Polis on Sunday declined to endorse President Biden’s call for a ban on so-called ‘assault weapons’, but said he would be willing to consider other licensing requirements for certain “high-powered weapons”.
Polis, who is relatively conservative on gun issues and has criticized calls to ban assault weapons in the past, NBC News’ “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, asked whether he would support a federal ban on assault weapons proposed by Biden last week after a mass shooting in Colorado Springs.
“In Colorado we have a magazine limit – 15 rounds, no more than 15 rounds in a magazine. So effectively that reduces the ability of high-powered weapons to do harm. So listen, I think all of these things, including the red flag law and expanding its use should really be considered,” Polis said. “But again, it’s not just about gun politics. Yes, this should be on the table to discuss in a thoughtful and rational way. But we also need to talk about mental health. We need to talk about the rhetoric that even divides some people. who aspire to leadership positions in our country unfortunately use almost every day.”
After a gunman killed five people and injured dozens more at a Colorado LGBTQ nightclub on Nov. 19, Biden said he would push federal lawmakers to enact a new assault weapons ban before January, when the next Congress took office and Republicans took control of the House.
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“The idea that we still allow the purchase of semi-automatic weapons is sick. Just sick,” Biden said at a press conference in Nantucket, Massachusetts, on Thanksgiving Day. “I’ll try to get rid of the assault weapons.”
The president appeared to confuse “assault” weapons with all semi-automatic weapons, which make up a large portion of rifle, handgun and shotgun purchases in the United States. A semi-automatic weapon automatically reloads each shot but only fires one shot each time the trigger is manually pulled.
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When Democrats use the controversial term “assault weapons,” they’re usually referring to a group of long, semi-automatic rifles, like the AR-15, that can fire 30 rounds without reloading. A 1994 ban that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and expired in 2004 specifically banned 19 types of semi-automatic firearms, as well as other rifles, shotguns, and handguns that had at least two of a certain feature set, including the gun. grips, detachable magazines and sound suppressors. The maximum magazine capacity was also set at 10 rounds.
A study published for the Department of Justice in 2004 found that “the impact of the ban on gun violence is likely to be small at best, and perhaps too small for reliable measurement”.
On Sunday, Todd pressed Polis a second time on whether he would support a new ban, and the governor conceded he would be willing to consider further licensing requirements for certain “high-powered weapons”.
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“I was generally supportive of national efforts to close the gun show loophole, to have a conversation about what kind of guns are being used,” the governor said. “As you know, fully automatic weapons are already effectively banned – we shouldn’t say that, there is a way to get a federal license to operate one. But if you’re talking about a similar process where you need of a license or additional experience to check some of the most powerful weapons, I supported that as a congressman.”
“Those are the kinds of things that we should be looking at nationally, but not to the exclusion of all these other things that we’re talking about, which may also be important,” he said, referring to the measures to address mental health.