GOP lawmaker calls for assault rifle ban

GOP lawmaker calls for assault rifle ban
© Greg Nash

A House Republican from Florida is backing an assault weapon ban following last week's shooting at a high school in his state that left 17 dead.

Rep. Brian MastBrian Jeffrey MastDems escalate gun fight a year after Parkland House panel advances bill to expand background checks for gun sales House Dems unveil initial GOP targets in 2020 MORE (R-Fla.), who faces a competitive reelection race this fall, wrote in an op-ed Friday that the Second Amendment guarantee of the right to bear arms should not apply to all guns.

"The Second Amendment is unimpeachable," Mast wrote in The New York Times. "It guarantees the right of citizens to defend themselves. I accept, however, that it does not guarantee that every civilian can bear any and all arms."

Mast, a retired staff sergeant in the Army, recalled his deployment in Afghanistan and the weapon he carried during that time, an M4 Carbine.

"My rifle was very similar to the AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon used to kill students, teachers and a coach I knew at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where I once lived," wrote Mast, who holds a seat that is "leaning Republican" according to the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

"I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill children I swore to defend," he added. 

But Mast, who said he was a National Rifle Association (NRA) member who carries a concealed weapon, said lawmakers would have to decide how to define what constitutes an assault weapon before agreeing to a ban.

He said a ban should not result in the confiscation of firearms from those who already own them. 

"But we should all be able to agree that the civilian version of the very deadly weapon that the Army issued to me should certainly qualify," he wrote in the Times.

The shooting last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., has led to a renewed national debate over guns and school shootings.

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The accused gunman, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, allegedly carried out the attack with an AR-15, an assault-style rifle that he purchased legally from a dealer in nearby Coral Springs roughly a year earlier.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE has inched toward supporting new restrictions on guns, but has been more vocal about ending gun-free zones around schools and about arming teachers and administrators who could fire back at a shooter.

Trump opposes an assault weapon ban, as do most Republicans in the House.

Trump also announced Tuesday that he had directed the Justice Department to propose regulations banning bump stocks, devices that can be used to modify semi-automatic rifles to make them shoot more rapidly.

Mast similarly called for a ban on bump stocks, and said that background checks should also be stricter.

"The president, House of Representatives, Senate, every state legislature, sheriffs, police officers, school boards, students and parents must unite with one mission: that no one will ever be murdered in school again," he wrote.