Sen. King ‘skeptical’ of assault-weapons ban

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said Sunday he was "skeptical" of an assault weapons ban, believing the restrictions on certain semi-automatic guns focused too intently on the cosmetic qualities of the firearms.

“I’m skeptical,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I’m leaning against simply because what I want to focus on is the functionality, not the looks.”

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King noted that under the bill, small changes that did not affect the killing power of certain rifles could move the weapons from what was permissible to illegal under the proposed legislation.

"You can take exactly the same mechanics of a gun and change the stock from a wooden stock to a folding stock and put something on the barrel, and suddenly it meets the definition of an assault weapon," King said. "It doesn't shoot faster, further, anything else."

The updated assault weapons ban introduced last month by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) bans the sale of about 150 specific firearms, and any semi-automatic weapon with at least one military feature. It would also ban semi-automatic rifles and handguns that have fixed magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds, as well as all semi-automatic shotguns that have folding or detachable stocks, pistol grips, forward grips, or fixed magazines with room for more than five rounds.

The assault-weapons ban was among a package of legislative proposals endorsed by the White House in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. elementary school shooting in December. But Republicans and some prominent Democrats — including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) — have voiced doubt about the possibility the bill could pass.

King said he preferred to focus efforts on more limited gun controls he believes would be more effective.

"I think what we really need to do is focus on what will really work," King said. "And to me that's universal background checks and perhaps limits on magazine size."