WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. James Lankford said Sunday he is open to stronger background checks for gun sales but resisted calls to ban assault weapons after another mass school shooting.
“I have no issue with more extensive background checks, I have no issue for slowing down purchases for people that show all the basic warning signs,” Lankford said in an exclusive interview on “Meet The Press.”
Lankford, who represents deep-red Oklahoma, pressed for passage of a bipartisan gun bill introduced late last year dubbed the “Fix NICS Act,” which attempts to find solutions and add accountability measures to help ensure specific background records are in the proper systems. The bill was crafted by crafted by Sens. John Cornyn, R.-Texas, and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Lankford signed on as a co-sponsor in December.
Calls for gun control reform on the national level have been re-awakened once again after 17 students and staff members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, were killed by gunman Wednesday.
Lankford however reiterated that he doesn’t support banning weapons like the AR-15, the firearm that was used in the Parkland shooting and many other mass shootings over the last several years.
“The problem is not owning an AR-15, it’s the person who owns it,” Lankford said, noting it can be used for hunting in some cases and he knows people in his neighborhood who have one.
“There are three or four, five times as many crimes committed with a handgun than there are with a rifle,” the senator added. “I’m fully aware that you’ve got situations like this, with a mass shooting with an AR-15. But the pistol has still been the weapon of choice for murderers.”
He repeated that the issue lawmakers should focus on is preventing certain people from being able to purchase a gun, regardless of what kind.
“I think what should be difficult is for any person with any kind of criminal background history, domestic violence, mental instability, all of those things, regardless. I don’t care whether they’re buying a 22 pistol or an AR-15,” he added.