By Sarah Elmquist Squires
Via- Wyoming News Exchange
RIVERTON — Wyoming U.S. Sen. John Barrasso on Wednesday blocked an effort to revive the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to push the measure through by unanimous consent.
“Democrats want Washington to ban rifles and pistols because of the way they look,” Barrasso said on the Senate floor. “To do this, they describe semi automatic rifles as ‘assault rifles.’ They aren’t.”
The ban, which was first passed in 1994 and expired a decade later, largely mirrored last week’s proposal. It would have restricted semi automatic rifles with pistol grips, forward grips and folding or telescoping stocks, along with rifles fitted with grenade launchers, barrel shrouds and threaded barrels allowing for noise and flash suppressors to be attached.
The new iteration would have also included universal background checks.
The Democrat-led effort to bring back the ban came after – for the second year in a row – the U.S. topped its own record for the number of mass shooting events in a year.
The most recent came in Lewiston, Maine, when 18 people were shot and killed at a youth bowling event and then a sports bar by a U.S. Army reservist who died by suicide shortly after.
Schumer called gun violence in America a “national crisis,” adding, “The American people are sick and tired of enduring one mass shooting after another. They’re sick and tired of vigil and moments of silence for family, friends, classmates, coworkers.”
But Barrasso pointed to the importance of the Second Amendment and said the proposed legislation targets law-abiding gun owners.
“Americans have a Constitutional right to own a firearm. Every day, people across Wyoming responsibly use their Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms,” Barrasso said. “Any farmer, rancher, or outdoorsman in Wyoming can tell you – these rifles work the same way as popular shotguns and other rifles used for hunting and personal protection … Democrats’ ban on ‘assault weapons’ is an assault on lawful gun owners. There is a contradiction at the center of the gun-control debate: Democrats want to enact new laws on law-abiding citizens. At the same time, they ignore lawbreakers.”
The Wyoming senator criticized Democrats’ approach to violence in America as demonizing rifles, disrespecting gun owners, and defunding the police.
“None of this makes our streets safer. None of this slows the crime wave in America,” he told his Senate colleagues.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D.- Conn.) spoke from the floor requesting unanimous consent for universal background checks, and said the reason the U.S. has so many mass shootings is due to its lax regulations on guns.
“We don’t have more mental illness in this country. We don’t spend less money on law enforcement; we don’t have angrier people. We have more guns, and we are much more permissive in this country about allowing felons, dangerous people, to get their hands on guns,” he said.
Barrasso said he objects to any policy that infringes upon Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
“The focus should be on mental health, school safety and stricter enforcement of current laws,” he said. “We want Americans to be safe in their communities, their homes and their schools. The legislation before us today goes beyond that … The Second Amendment is freedom’s essential safeguard. Without it, there can be no liberty and no security.”