Waco Tribune Herald: Local Rep. Flores comes out against new gun regulations12/29/12
By Lowell Brown
U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, said Friday he owns a “so-called assault rifle” and would oppose new gun control measures in Congress in the wake of the recent mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school.
Flores, speaking on the Shane Warner Morning Show on Waco’s News Talk 1230AM, was asked to clarify his support of the Second Amendment after saying on the show last week that “you don’t use high-capacity magazines to go hunt deer.”
Warner said the comment generated calls and emails from listeners who worried Flores thought the Second Amendment protected only hunting, instead of a broader right to bear arms.
“First of all, I own guns,” Flores said, according to audio of the interview posted on the News Talk 1230 website. “I even own an assault rifle, or a so-called assault rifle. I have a concealed carry permit and I’m going to protect the Second Amendment every day that I’m in Congress.”
Warner later joked about Flores owning an assault rifle, writing on Twitter: “Good thing he’s in TXCD17. Otherwise manufactured outrage coming in 3, 2, 1 ...”
The comment came days after incoming state Rep. Kyle Kacal, R-Bryan, faced a barrage of criticism for comments opposing gun control. Kacal, whose district includes part of McLennan County, attracted international media attention for saying falling flat-screen TVs and pingpong accidents were more dangerous to children than guns.
Flores, whose 17th Congressional District includes the Waco area, did not elaborate on his gun ownership during the radio interview.
He later told the Tribune-Herald he bought a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle about four years ago when he thought they would be banned but has never fired it.
Police have said an AR-15 rifle was one of the weapons used by the Newtown, Conn., gunman, who killed 20 students and six adults before killing himself on Dec. 14.
“I used to hunt, but I don’t have time anymore,” Flores said. “But if I did, it would be a great deer rifle.”
Flores also said he owns “a couple of” long guns and a shotgun for hunting, as well as handguns for self-defense.
President Barack Obama and some congressional Democrats have called for new limits on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, along with tighter restrictions on sales at gun shows, since the Connecticut shooting. Flores told the Tribune-Herald he would oppose those efforts, although he thinks some Republicans may support them.
“You have to be careful because an assault rifle is really the equivalent of a deer rifle that has some different attachments and features that make it look different,” he said. “It doesn’t change the legality of the weapon or the purpose of the weapon whatsoever. That’s where you get into a slippery slope. If you talk about about (banning) assault weapons, you could find yourself talking about banning all long guns.”
David Schleicher, treasurer of the McLennan County Democratic Party, said he thinks Congress can do something to help control gun violence.
“There’s a well-established constitutional right to own a gun and particularly to have one available to defend one’s home,” Schleicher said in an email. “No one is suggesting outlawing hunting. The question is how to keep military-grade weapons out of the hands of maniacs.
“How many more children will die before Congress quits pretending the choice is either ban all guns or do nothing at all?”
Flores said the focus on assault weapons is unwarranted because more deaths are caused by handguns. Instead of passing gun control laws, he said, the country should investigate whether schools have adequate security and explore better ways of identifying people with mental health challenges.
He supports the National Rifle Association’s proposal to place armed guards in schools but would not say whether federal dollars should help fund it.
Flores, a former oil and gas executive who defeated longtime Democratic Congressman Chet Edwards to take the seat in 2010, has described himself as a life member of the NRA, although the gun rights organization endorsed Edwards in 2010.
Flores received $7,000 in NRA contributions between July 2009 and November 2012, accounting for less than 1 percent of his total reported contributions, according to data kept by the Federal Election Commission.
The NRA contributions included $4,500 in the 2012 reporting cycle, when Flores earned an “A” rating from the organization, the New York Times reported this month. Flores co-sponsored the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act of 2011, which sought to ease restrictions on interstate gun purchases.
“The NRA has tens of thousands of members in District 17, so because of that I listen to the positions that they take on behalf of my constituents,” Flores said. “I listen to every special interest group because they represent people in my district, but the relationship (with the NRA) is no different than any other group that represents my constituents.”
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