Appearing on CNN's "New Day," former George W. Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzales stated that he supports a ban on AR-15s, while surprising host John Berman after calling the high-powered weapons "killing machines."
Reacting to reports that lawmakers from both sides of the aisle will be having a Zoom meeting on Tuesday to discuss changes needed in gun laws following the latest mass shooting, this time in Texas that took the lives of 19 elementary school students and two teachers, Gonzales said he parts company with other conservatives that the 2nd Amendment is as inflexible as the National Rifle Association insists it is.
"I was the attorney general during the time of the Virginia Tech shooting where is we lost, I think, 30 people," he began. "And part of my responsibility was to work with the secretary of education, secretary of health and human service and try to understand what happened at Virginia Tech and come up with a list of recommendations that would help to prevent those kinds of incidents from happening again."
"Having a discussion about this, I think it's important," he continued. "I think Congress can be very, very helpful. This is not about ending gun ownership, it's about expanding gun safety. I grew up in Texas, I live in Tennessee, two very red states and gun ownership is very, very important. I think if you talk to most people in the red states, even they'll tell you what they really support is responsible gun ownership and that's what we are looking to have our Congress look to provide."
Host Berman pressed, "You don't think, for instance, as often we hear from some people, the Second Amendment isn't absolute, in the sense that there can be no regulation on firearms?"
"Oh, absolutely," the attorney replied. "I absolutely disagree with the notion that the Second Amendment is unlimited. The Supreme Court has already issued a decision indicating that restrictions are constitutional. Those who say any regulation is an infringement on my constitutional rights -- they're just making a political statement."
Calling AR-15s "killing machines" he went on, "It's possible we might get some movement there. But again, a complete ban? I quite frankly, think politically it's not viable. No matter what it is with respect to assault weapons or any other kind of weapon, you have millions of these weapons already in the hands of gun owners in this country so there are limitations. I think what we ought to focus on is what is possible, what is really possible, as opposed to going for something that has absolutely no chance of being passed in the law."
"I'm actually a little surprised you just used the phrase 'killing machines' because that's something that people who do want to see a ban on AR-15s, that's a phrase that they use," Berman prompted. "You were, I believe, still White House counsel in 2004 when the assault ban expired which is something that the Bush administration, if I'm not mistaken, wanted to see expire. Do you regret at this point that the 1994 assault weapons ban expired?"
"Well, again, because there are millions already in the hands of gun owners that doesn't mean that it would have eliminated or stopped a mass shooting," Gonzales explained. "Quite frankly, personally, I have no issue with respect to bans on assault weapons. But I, again, John, I just don't think it's possible in this country at this particular point in time. I don't know what it would take to get that passed. Look at the make-up of the members of the Senate, members of the House, I just don't see it happening."
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