Franken signals support for assault weapons ban

DFL Sen. Al Franken says he supports a ban on assault weapons – one day after the Rochester Post-Bulletin reported he was undecided on such a ban (the paper has now updated the story).

In a statement today Franken said he supports an assault weapons ban in principle but wants to see the specifics of any legislation.

“I also support the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons, and I will carefully review any proposal to do that,” Franken said. “We need to make sure we don’t have weapons out there that are really designed for the battlefield, and not for hunting.”

Franken also wants to ban large ammunition clips and spend more money on mental health treatment.

Franken, who is up for re-election in 2014, may have to walk a careful line on any legislation involving guns. Minnesota has many voters, including rural Democrats, who support gun rights. But there are many Democrats in urban communities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, who want to see tougher gun regulation.

Here’s Franken’s full statement:

“My heart is heavy over the tragedy that occurred in Connecticut and my thoughts are with those who are grieving. I’ve always supported the Second Amendment rights of Minnesotans to own firearms for collection, protection, and sport. But I also think we need to find a balance between those rights and the safety of our children and our communities. I co-sponsored legislation to ban large clips like those used in so many mass shootings. I also support the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons, and I will carefully review any proposal to do that. We need to make sure we don’t have weapons out there that are really designed for the battlefield, and not for hunting. In the days and weeks ahead, I’m going to consult closely with all of the affected communities in the state – and that includes people like hunters, educators, parents, and other elected officials – about the best path forward.”