The deadly mass shooting in Las Vegas last week and a near-death experience at the hands of a gunman hasn’t publicly shifted H
ouse Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s opposition to new gun control measures.
In one of his first wide-ranging interviews since he was wounded during a shooting at a congressional baseball practice earlier this year, Scalise forcefully defended current gun laws. He argued President Donald Trump’s administration was doing more to enforce existing gun ownership laws and blamed media for misrepresenting gun ownership.
“The problem is not that there are too many guns,” Scalise said on “Meet The Press” on Sunday. “It’s that there are people that will go out and break the law, whether it’s a gun or some other weapon or a bomb. There’s no excuse for breaking the law.”
When asked by host Chuck Todd whether it was Congress’ role to stop mass shootings by passing legislation, Scalise argued that the US hasn’t done a good job of “taking care of people that had mental health problems.”
“Some of those people ended up going out and committing mass shootings,” he said.
The majority whip — who returned to Congress in September after months of recovery following the June shooting that left him and several others injured — also argued that additional gun control measures wouldn’t solve the US’s gun problems.
He said most violent gun incidents are committed by individuals using guns purchased illegally. Scalise pointed to cities like Chicago, which have stricter gun laws but high rates of gun violence. And he argued that media outlets don’t report on stories where gun owners stop criminals.
“The only thing that gets reported are the tragedies,” Scalise said. “But it rarely gets reported when somebody actually uses their Second Amendment right with a gun to protect themselves against a criminal.”
Scalise did not answer whether he supported any additional gun control regulation, and he did not detail which gun control regulations he supports.
When pressed by Todd about whether he supported a law banning automatic weapons, Scalise said some of the weapons included in the ban “aren’t really automatic weapons.” He also argued that “you haven’t seen a decrease in gun violence with those laws on the books.”
Scalise’s interview came one week since the deadly Las Vegas shooting left 58 dead and nearly 500 injured. The incident spurred Republicans to take a rare step, as many hinted they could favour regulating so-called bump stocks, the rifle modification that allows semi-automatic weapons to fire more rapidly, simulating automatic fire.
Still, Scalise said that it was too early for him to say whether he supported a ban on the rifle modifications.
“There are people that want to rush to judgment,” Scalise said. “Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi already said she wants it to be a slippery slope. She doesn’t want to stop at bump stocks. They want to go out and limit the rights of gun owners. And so I do think it’s a little bit early for people to say they know what to do to fix this problem.”
Watch the interview below:
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