Senator Scott Brown has reversed his position after the massacre at a Connecticut elementary school and now says he supports a federal assault weapons ban.
“What happened in Newtown where those children were subject to that level of violence is beyond my comprehension,” Brown said in an interview today with the Springfield Republican newspaper. “As a state legislator in Massachusetts I supported an assault weapons ban thinking other states would follow suit. But unfortunately, they have not and innocent people are being killed. As a result, I support a federal assault weapons ban, perhaps like the legislation we have in Massachusetts.”
Brown had long said he opposed any new federal restrictions on guns and believed the issue was best left up to the states. He reiterated his opposition to tighter federal gun laws after previous attacks at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater and at US Representative Gabrielle Giffords’s meet-and-greet with constituents in Tucson, Ariz.
“I’m not in favor of doing any additional federal regulations relating to any type of weapons or federal gun changes,” Brown told the Globe shortly after the Tucson attack last year. “I feel it should be left up to the states.”
First, let’s state the obvious: Senator Brown is, for whatever reason, now on the correct side of this issue, and bravo to him for getting there. We need all the votes we can get, and it’s heartening to see Republicans as well as conservative Democrats being willing to reconsider previously-held positions.
Now, it must also be said that it’s difficult to take Brown’s explanation at face value. He cannot possibly have seriously thought that the best way to get assault weapons banned across the country was to have relatively liberal states like MA enact state-level bans and then figure that conservative, much more pro-gun states would follow suit. Obviously, that was never going to happen. So there’s something else afoot here. Maybe it’s as simple as seeing Newtown as a game-changer that demands federal action; maybe it’s more complicated with considerations of a possible Senate race playing a role. But whatever got Brown to where he is now on this issue, it’s an improvement over where he was before, and that’s a good thing.