Florida Republican congressman just broke with his party on guns in daring NY Times op-ed

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Republican Brian Mast of Florida just broke ranks with his party in a New York Times op-ed, calling for an assault weapons ban to prevent the kind of gun massacre that killed 14 teen students and three teachers at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last Wednesday.

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According to today’s The Hill,Rep. Brian Mast (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.”

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In the editorial, Mast wrote:

The Second Amendment is unimpeachable . . . 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.

A former Army staff sergeant who had both legs amputated from the knee down after an explosion in Afghanistan, Mast pointed out the danger of civilians carrying military-grade assault weapons, like the AR-15, the gun of choice in most of America’s mass shootings, including the one in Parkland:

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

Rep. Mast added that he believed there should be a ban on bump stocks, that background check rules should tighten.

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Mast’s stance contrasts starkly with that of Trump and his NRA-backed Republican Party, who oppose an assault weapons ban, and who have advocated instead for more guns, including for teachers — an idea that has even most gun owners outraged.

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Statistically, assault weapons bans have brought down the number of mass shootings when they have been enforced.  America’s number of gun massacres far outnumbers those occurring in other wealthy countries, where citizens have no access to such weapons.

Most NRA-bought conservatives, fearing the articulate young advocates for gun control, have attempted to smear the brave Parkland students who survived the shooting.

However, Mast’s op-ed reveals that in purple districts like his, support is eroding for an unrestricted Second Amendment that allows kids, mentally ill people, terrorists, and domestic abusers to access weapons of war.

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“President” Trump, meanwhile, signed an executive order last year, reversing Obama-era restrictions intended to prevent mentally ill people from accessing weapons.

Parkland is the 59th mass shooting at or near a school this academic year.

To tell the world #NeverAgain will they allow other kids to endure what they did when one of their former classmates opened fire on them in a diabolical hailstorm of bullets, the Parkland students are organizing a March 24 march on Washington that will have satellite marches around the country.

To support or attend the “March for our Lives,” click here. 

Follow Lucia Brawley on Twitter and at luciabrawley.com.

Lucia Brawley

Lucia Brawley is a Harvard- and Yale-educated writer, producer, actor, and political organizer. She runs the progressive political Facebook group Consenting to Lead. To learn more, please go to luciabrawley.com. Follow her on Twitter: @luciabrawley

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