Florida Republican congressman calls for ban on assault weapon sales, other measures

A Republican congressman from Florida announced his support for a ban on assault weapon sales Friday in an op-ed in The New York Times.

Rep. Brian Mast, who himself carries a concealed pistol, said in the op-ed that he supports “defining what constitutes an assault or tactical firearm and not allowing them for future purchase.”

An Army veteran, Mast said the rifle he used during combat in Afghanistan is “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.”

His combat weapon, he said, was “the best for killing our enemies.” And for that reason, he said, “I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill children I swore to defend.”

Within his sharp critique of assault weapons, Mast defended the Second Amendment, calling it “unimpeachable.”

“I accept, however, that it does not guarantee that every civilian can bear any and all arms,” he said.

In addition to calling for a ban on future assault weapon sales, Mast said he supports universal background checks, a ban on the sale of “accessories and add-ons that circumvent the ban on automatic firearms” and a ban on gun sales to individuals who “have been detained for mental illness” or are “being looked at as a possible terrorist” by the government.

Mast also said he supports providing “behavior detection training” to anyone seeking a federal firearms license, making more resources available to schools to improve security measures, holding the “FBI and state agencies accountable for their failures to identify a threat like Nikolas Cruz” and “conducting further research into the nexus of gun violence, violence in mass media and mental illness.”

Mast’s op-ed came at the end of a week-long national conversation on gun violence and gun rights that included a listening session with President Donald Trump and a CNN town hall with survivors of the tragedy in Parkland, which left 17 dead.