Steve Scott, Rep. Peter King

WCBS 880

Rep. Peter King: Gun Control Proposals Have 'Gotten Nowhere' In Congress

February 28, 2018 - 4:10 pm
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-New York) of Long Island is calling for background checks for all guns sold.

King told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott Wednesday that gun proposals in Congress have so far “gotten nowhere.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods announced Wednesday that it will stop selling assault-style weapons in its stores, and will raise the minimum age for all gun buyers to 21. It is the latest company to announce changes in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting that left 17 people dead.

King said the development with Dick’s and other businesses is part of a “dramatic change.”

“There certainly has been a dramatic change as far as public interest; as far as businesses realizing that many of their customers want them to take action regarding assault weapons and regarding the gun industry,” King said. “But one cautionary note I would put in there – and I by the way, do support more gun legislation. I believe in background checks. I believe in banning assault weapons. But having said that, so far in Congress I have not seen that much of a move.”

King said calls for attention to, and change in, gun legislation are out there in the general public and the business community.

“But it’s not fully showing itself yet in Congress,” King said.

King, along with U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-California) is sponsoring an enhanced background check bill in the House. King tells WCBS that it would require the same background checks for gun show and internet purchases that are now required for store purchases.

“The main thing it does is that right now, there are background checks if you go to a gun store. But people can buy weapons at gun shows, and there’s basically very little or no regulation when it comes to buying weapons at a gun show or buying weapons over the internet, and this would apply the same standards as we have if a person purchases a weapon in a store, as we have if they do at a show or over the internet, or even in private dealings,” King said.

But as to Congress, King said, “Again, it’s gotten nowhere.”

King noted that he also has proposed a bill that would forbid anyone on the terrorist watch list for purchasing a weapon.

“That also gets very little support,” King said. “So again, there is, I think we have to realize in New York – not accept it, but realize – the strong resistance from other parts of the country; from people who consider themselves law abiding, but they just have a different view of guns.”

King noted that some children get guns at 6, 7, or 8 years old in some parts of the country, and many keep guns and just “consider it to be just a basic part of life.”

“We have to counter some of that culture by saying, ‘No one wants to take away your lawful weapon, but we can’t allow these weapons of mass destruction to be out there, and we can’t allow people with criminal backgrounds or violence or mental illness in their background to have weapons,” King said.

Some have pointed out that gun control legislation did not happen after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, or the concert shooting in Las Vegas – and conclude that such legislation will never happen at all.

But King said a different dynamic is at work following the Parkland school shooting – with the activism of student survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School taking center stage.

“This time, with the young students being very articulate; being very eloquent; having access to the media – they are driving it much more,” King said. “This issue has stayed alive much longer than it has in the past. We're going to make more progress now than we made after Sandy Hook. That, I'm sure of."

King also said he was not crazy about the idea of arming school personnel, as President Donald Trump has proposed.

"To me, that should depend on the local school districts. I think it would be very difficult to have that. Even retired military may not be enough,” King said. “To me, unless you're a trained police officer who is used to that type of situation, it may be dangerous to have teachers with guns in the classrooms. It could end up creating more problems than if they had no weapons at all,” King said. “Again, if your local district; local school board, wants to hire a teacher; allow a teacher who has really very significant law enforcement experience to have a weapon, that’s one thing. But again, in my own school district, I would be against it."