Virtual debate: Sen. Portman, Sen. Brown explain their views on assault weapons

Virtual debate: Sen. Portman, Sen. Brown explain their views on assault weapons
Posted at 8:30 AM, Jun 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-25 08:30:08-04

Ohio's senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman, reflect the division in Washington over guns. WCPO asked them where they stand on our recent editorial calling for a ban of assault weapons. Here's what they said:

Portman: 'More gun control would not have prevented these attacks' 

The recent tragedies in Orlando, San Bernardino, and Paris have affected us all. We mourn as a country, and together across the world, that innocent civilians were targeted due to a hateful ideology. 

I support common sense restrictions that are designed to keep guns out of the hands of terrorists, criminals, and those that are suffering from mental illnesses, like those proposed measures from Senator Cornyn and Senator Grassley I voted for earlier this week.

Sen. Portman

Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to reach a bipartisan consensus on this important topic, but I will continue to work with my colleagues to find a solution that protects innocent lives and our Second Amendment rights.

The fact is, however, that more gun control would not have prevented these attacks.  In Paris, where assault weapons are illegal, terrorists were still able to obtain them on the black market and use them in recent terror attacks.  Terrorists are committed to their cause and will acquire the tools they need to carry out their hateful ideology.  We are a nation at war with radical Islamist terrorists. This is a hateful, violent ideology that respects no borders.  We must defeat it.

Our safety and security as a country depends on our ability to work together to confront and defeat this terrorist threat.

For years, I’ve called on the president to put in place a comprehensive strategy to defeat this hateful and violent ideology.  If we're going to stop ISIS-inspired attacks, I believe we need a three-part strategy: a more aggressive military strategy to defeat ISIS and take away their platform to attack, better protection of the homeland -- including increased screening for refugees and visa holders -- and more effectively addressing the terror threat here in our communities by providing our domestic law enforcement the tools they need, working more closely with the American Muslim community, and providing a more effective counternarrative to the radical Islamists’ hateful extremist message.

 Our safety and security as a country depends on our ability to work together to confront and defeat this terrorist threat.

Brown: 'I do not believe weapons of war belong on our streets'

The recent mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, was an act of terror fueled by hatred that has no place in this country. We must stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, and we must confront ISIS and protect Americans from terrorist threats.

Sen. Brown

But we cannot truly say we are doing what it takes to keep Americans safe from homegrown terrorism unless we are finally willing to pass common sense laws to keep weapons of war out of the hands of terrorists and violent criminals. It’s a simple fact that the vast majority of those killed by terrorist attacks on American soil – more than 75 percent – are killed by people using guns.

It is common sense that someone who is on the FBI’s terrorist watch list shouldn’t be able to buy a gun – if the FBI decides someone is too dangerous to get on a flight at CVG, they are certainly too dangerous to buy an assault rifle. It’s also the case that dangerous criminals shouldn’t be able to avoid background checks that could save lives simply because they buy their gun online rather than at a local gun store.

It’s past time that we close these dangerous loopholes.

Hold your elected officials accountable and demand we answer to you.

I voted in support of the original federal assault weapons ban in 1994 and I voted to renew it after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school took the lives of 20 innocent children and six adults. I continue to support it today, because I do not believe weapons of war belong on our streets.

I have always respected the rights of hunters, collectors, and other law-abiding gun owners, and no one has the intention or plan to take away any of their guns. But when one man can slaughter 49 innocent people, as we saw in Orlando, it’s clear something has to be done to protect Americans from gun violence.

It’s not only the 49 lives lost in Orlando we have to answer for – it’s the many dozens of people who have been killed by guns just in the days since the massacre. It’s the more than 1,000 Americans who have died in mass shootings since Sandy Hook. It’s the thousands and thousands of sons and daughters, moms and dads, brothers and sisters, who have been killed by guns on the streets of cities like Cincinnati and elsewhere across the country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 11,000 Americans were murdered by firearms and more than 33,000 people died due to injuries from firearms in 2013. It’s past time to act.

Last week, I joined 38 of my fellow senators in a 15-hour filibuster on the Senate floor demanding votes. We secured the chance to vote on amendments that would close the loopholes that allow those who are likely to engage in terrorist activity to buy guns and let violent criminals skirt background checks by buying guns online.

But simply holding votes isn’t enough. We need to take meaningful action to keep Americans safe.  As one woman from Cincinnati wrote to me recently, “This is common sense, and it is the right thing to do for your constituents. It is what you are elected to do.”

I will continue fighting for commonsense gun safety laws to protect Americans. But I need your help. Please continue writing, calling and making your voices heard. Hold your elected officials accountable and demand we answer to you.