U.S. Olympic biathlete says he would support assault weapons ban
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U.S. Olympic biathlon team members spoke out about the need for more gun control after a school shooting last week in Florida that left 17 dead and 14 others wounded.

After American biathlete Lowell Bailey finished competing on Tuesday night, he said there was no reason for people to have assault rifles, Yahoo Sports reported.

“We’re a sport that uses a .22-caliber rifle,” Bailey said, “A .22-caliber rifle that shoots a single round is a much different thing than an AR-15. In my opinion, there’s just no reason for assault rifles to be in the hands of ordinary citizens.”

Bailey has said he supports a ban on assault weapons in the U.S.

“I really do. Our country needs to wake up,” Bailey said, according to The Washington Post. “Our country needs to change. There’s just no excuse.”

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The shooting last Wednesday has revived a national discussion on gun control.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE has asked the Justice Department to draft regulation to ban bump stocks, a device that makes semi-automatic weapons fire at faster speeds. He is also reportedly talking about the potential of implementing a new minimum age of 21 to buy guns similar to the weapon used last week in the deadly Florida high school shooting.

The Florida school shooter reportedly did not use a bump stock but allegedly used an AR-15.

Another member of the U.S. biathlon team, Susan Dunklee, said that shootings back home made her feel conflicted about her love for the sport and its association with firearms.

“Every time something like that happens, it makes me sick to my stomach, to think about,” Dunklee said. “This is so far removed from that kind of shooting. This is precision shooting. We’re using a .22. But there is that association of being a firearm, and it takes a lot of the joy I have out of pursuing a sport like this.”

"I look at what's happening with all these mass shootings and it's so sad, and it's not OK," Dunklee added. "It almost makes me want to just put the rifle down and never touch it again. Sometimes."

The biathlon combines cross-country skiing with rifle shooting and requires intense physical ability and stamina but also adept handling of a firearm. 

Bailey has said that his competitors from other nations are always baffled at the political landscape of the U.S. and at the ease with which people can buy assault rifles.

“I compete against all of these other World Cup nations — Germany, Norway. How good are they on the range? They’re great at rifle marksmanship,” he said. “Do you know how strict their gun controls law are? It’s a travesty America hasn’t changed and continues to go down this path. It just makes me want to cry.”

On Wednesday, President Trump held a listening session on gun violence with teachers, parents and students.

At the listening session, parents discussed an age restriction on assault weapon purchases and the president floated the idea of arming teachers in an effort to prevent future school shootings.