Sen. Robert Casey Jr. (D-PA) has received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association and campaigned in his 2012 re-election race on his “record of supporting the Second Amendment and the interests of Pennsylvania sportsmen.” But after Friday’s tragedy in Connecticut, Casey has switched positions and now supports banning assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips.
On Monday, Casey indicated that he would be open to considering new gun laws. In his initial statement, he said, “These senseless acts of violence are unacceptable. Addressing them will require a comprehensive strategy that acknowledges all of the factors that contributed to this tragedy and takes every appropriate step to protect our citizens, especially our kids. Everything should be on the table.”
Wednesday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports, Pennsylvania’s senior senator said he was “haunted” by the Newtown shootings and ready to back two major gun control proposals:
Furrowing his brow and casting his eyes downward, Casey expressed regret that he had not reconsidered his views as starkly after earlier massacres at Virginia Tech and in Aurora, Colo.
“The power of the weapon, the number of bullets that hit each child, that was so, to me, just so chilling, it haunts me. It should haunt every public official,” said Casey, who won a second term six weeks ago while touting his opposition to gun control.
In the days since the shooting that killed 20 children and eight adults, the debate around gun laws has shifted. Democrats have called for reinstating the assault-weapons ban and barring magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
“If those two bills come before the Senate, I’ll vote for both,” Casey said. He said his decision amounted to being “summoned by your conscience.”
A growing number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said this week that they are reconsidering their opposition to gun control. President Obama announced Wednesday that he has has created a task force to recommend steps to prevent future tragedies like Sandy Hook and the many others the nation has endured since Columbine.