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Gingrich dismisses call for assault-weapons ban as ‘propaganda’

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) on Sunday dismissed the term “assault weapon” as “propaganda” and said banning more weapons would not stem gun violence.

“The term ‘assault weapon’ is propaganda,” said Gingrich on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “Any true military weapon is illegal, has been illegal since 1934. Somebody’s using an AK-47, they are using an illegal weapon because it is an automatic weapon. We do not allow people to buy automatic weapons unless they have a very strict collector’s license.”

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In the wake of last month’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Conn., President Obama is pressing lawmakers to ban the sale of military-style semi-automatic weapons and high capacity clips, as well as institute universal background checks.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last week introduced a sweeping bill which would ban over 150 different semi-automatic weapons, but the bill faces tough opposition.

Gingrich on Sunday said that proposals to ban such firearms would do little to prevent future shootings.

“The person who killed the most persons – at Virginia Tech – used two pistols. And the fact is that every political attack since John F. Kennedy as president has involved a weapon which would be legal under Sen. Feinstein’s law,” said Gingrich.

“We need to look at facts, not create propaganda,” he added.

Appearing on the same program, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said that the focus on a weapons ban distracted lawmakers from addressing the root causes of gun violence. 

“I understand the senator’s passion on this, but I have to tell you an assault ban is not the answer,” she said of the Feinstein proposal.

“When I hear some of this conversation, I think we are looking at symptoms, we are not looking at root causes,” said Blackburn, who encouraged more attention to mental health issues and security at schools.

“The Speaker is right, you look at what’s actually causing the problem,” she added.  “Don’t just go say ‘we’re going to do an assault weapon ban and that is going to solve the problem.’”

Asked if he would support universal background checks, Gingrich instead pointed to the White House and said they had failed to prosecute those with criminal records caught trying to purchase firearms. 

“Well we have background checks now and there are a substantial number of felons who have actually applied to purchase a gun and the Obama administration to the best of my knowledge has prosecuted virtually none of them,” said Gingrich.

“There’s a parental desire to have the innocent have a more complicated life because of a handful of the guilty, instead of focusing on the guilty,” he said.