COPPERAS COVE — Wedged between racks of rifles, ammunition and tactical weapons gear at J.T. Sports store, U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Weatherford, affirmed his opposition Monday to the president’s proposed ban on assault rifles.
“My opposition is based on the fact that his plan is not only unconstitutional but not effective,” Williams said.
The definition of “military-style assault rifle” needed clarification for the freshman congressman, whose District 25 includes residents of Austin, Copperas Cove and Killeen.
Williams said President Barack Obama’s proposal could limit the sale of guns that are nothing more than “a semi-automatic hunting rifle that has been made to look like a military gun.”
“The assault weapons ban is a term of art,” Williams said. “We need solutions, not slogans.”
Fully automatic military-style rifles are available through a lengthy gun-licensing process, store owner Jean Tran said after the news conference. Semi-automatic military-style rifles are more popular and easier to obtain.
“The term people use is ‘assault rifle,’ but it is not to just go out assaulting people,” Tran said. “It’s just a hunting rifle.”
After the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the Obama administration has vowed to fight the “epidemic” of gun violence in the U.S.
During a news conference Jan. 14, the president issued 23 executive actions against gun violence, including ordering federal agencies to make more data available for background checks and directing further research into gun violence.
He also urged congressional legislation that would reinstate a ban on “military-style assault weapons,” mandate universal background checks and place a 10-round limit on magazines.
“Limiting the size of the magazines will only endanger those who are already in danger,” Williams said Monday. “An individual trying to stop an intruder will not have the time to stop and reload.”
Obama’s gun control initiative also called for a crackdown on illegal gun sales and renewing research efforts into the causes of gun violence, including mental health.
Williams acknowledged the merits of better research into gun violence but disagreed with the president’s method.
“We need to have a dialogue, but we need to have a dialogue in Congress, not through executive order,” Williams said.
“His plan is to disarm America, which is to take (guns) out of the hands of the good guys and leave them in the hands of the bad guys.”
Copperas Cove resident and former teacher Pat Thomas attended the meeting because she was worried about losing her right to conceal-carry a handgun, which is protected by state law.
“The people that are here are the good people,” Thomas said after the news conference. “We have to have more control of who the people are with the guns.”
Former District 54 state Rep. Suzanna Hupp, a well-known advocate of gun rights and a survivor of the 1991 Luby’s massacre, attended the meeting in support of Williams.
“I think we’ve got a real friend of the Second Amendment in Roger Williams,” Hupp said.