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16 Feb, 2018 17:23

'Congress must ban semiautomatic weapons’ – ex CIA director John Brennan

'Congress must ban semiautomatic weapons’ – ex CIA director John Brennan

In the aftermath of the Florida school shooting this week that left 17 people dead, John Brennan echoed the concerns of law enforcement officials who have spoken out against assault weapons on the streets of America.

On Thursday, ex-CIA Director Brennan weighed in on the gun debate by calling on Congress to revamp gun laws following the deadly mass shooting at a South Florida high school, located less than an hour’s drive from Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence.

“Having worked international counterterrorism for much of my career, it is imperative that we devote equal energy and effort to addressing the scourge of gun violence in our country,” Brennan commented in a tweet Thursday. “Congress needs to act now to prevent access to semiautomatic weapons that kill innocents.”

Since the expiration of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 2004, US citizens have been entitled to purchase semiautomatic weapons (defined as assault weapons that fire a single bullet with each squeeze of the trigger), and magazines that carry no more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

On Tuesday, Nikolas Cruz, 19, killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle. There are reportedly several million such rifles in circulation in the United States. 

Given the relatively inexpensive price for an AR-15, which starts at around $600 dollars and can rise to several thousand dollars, depending on the features, the firearm is a popular seller among gun enthusiasts.

Brennan’s comments added fuel to the flames of the gun debate in the US as Republicans, with the full support of the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA), refuse to back down on any legislation that they believe would infringe on the Second Amendment right to own a firearm.

Almost a year ago to the day of the Florida shooting, Trump blocked an Obama-era piece of regulation that would have given the FBI information about prospective gun buyers who are receiving disability benefits due to mental illness. In other words, all gun applicants who pass the criminal background check are eligible to buy a firearm.

The NRA and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued that no regulations should be placed on people with mental illnesses, since that would be a violation of their Second Amendment rights without due process.