Sen. Kamala Harris came out in favor of banning "assault weapons" at an Iowa town hall hosted by CNN Monday night.
"We've got to stop buying this false choice," Harris said in response to a question about gun violence. "You can be in favor of the Second Amendment and also understand that there is no reason in a civil society that we have assault weapons around communities that can kill babies and police officers."
"But here's the thing," she said about opposition to gun control. "And I'm just going to be very, very blunt about this. You know, for years I've asked folks in D.C., you know, is the NRA real or is it a paper tiger? Like, what's the deal there? And the feedback is, well, 50/50."
QUESTION: As a pastor, I have observed and witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of gun violence on families and communities. Several years ago, I did a funeral for a young man in Philadelphia who was shot and killed. We had here in Des Moines, just three years ago, a teenager who had been part of our church's tutoring program who was shot and killed.
As you know, the rates of gun violence in America are astronomically higher than in other Western democracies. What do you think can be done? And what would you be prepared to do to address the problem of gun violence?
HARRIS: Yeah, well, thank you, Pastor. I mean -- and I know that for folks like you who have to stand strong for so many who look to you for strength, even when you're grieving, and to keep pushing on to lead is so important, and thank you for that.
You know, here's the thing. We have got to have smart gun safety laws in this country. And we've got to stop buying this false choice. You can be in favor of the Second Amendment and also understand that there is no reason in a civil society that we have assault weapons around communities that can kill babies and police officers.
Something like universal background checks. It makes perfect sense that you might want to know before someone can buy a weapon that can kill another human being, you might want to know, have they been convicted of a felony where they committed violence? That's just reasonable.
You might want to know, before they can buy that gun, if a court has found them to be a danger to themselves or others. You just might want to know. That's reasonable.
But here's the thing. And I'm just going to be very, very blunt about this. You know, for years I've asked folks in D.C., you know, is the NRA real or is it a paper tiger? Like, what's the deal there? And the feedback is, well, 50/50.
But here's what I've witnessed and what we have all witnessed. We have witnessed a case where a seated member of Congress, acting in her official capacity as a member of the United States Congress, was shot and permanently injured. Her name is Gabby Giffords. The people who work with her every day, who know her -- you know, we have colleagues, we know them, we know their children, we break bread, we share holiday moments with them -- the people who knew her didn't act.
She was acting in her official capacity, not on vacation somewhere. You would think even out of self-interest they would have acted. They failed to act. Twenty 6- and 7-year-old babies were massacred in Connecticut. They failed to act.
Here's what I think. I think that somebody should have required -- and this is going to sound very harsh -- I think somebody should have required all those members of Congress to go in a room, in a locked room, no press, no one, nobody else, and look at the autopsy photographs of those babies. And then you vote your conscience. This has become a political issue.
This has become a political issue, and it is -- there is no reason why we cannot have reasonable gun safety laws in this country. And guess what, guys? Here's the reality of it, also. We're not waiting for a good idea. We have the good ideas: an assault weapons ban, background checks. Right? We're not waiting for a tragedy. We have seen the worst human tragedies we can imagine.
So what's missing? What's missing is people in the United States Congress to have the courage to act the right way.
And I'm so sorry for your loss. And I thank you for using your voice. But there are too many parents who are grieving the loss of their children, too many communities that are grieving the loss of lives that should never have been taken.