Top GOP Congressman: ‘I Really Don’t Know Why People Need Assault Weapons’

Rep. Peter King (R-NY), a longtime proponent of gun safety, said that Americans don’t “need assault weapons” during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Thursday.

The vocal New York Republican discussed his efforts to force House Speaker John Bohener (R-OH) to bring a Hurricane Sandy relief bill to a vote, but not before agreeing with Joe Scarborough’s argument that lawmakers should move to limit the availability of assault weapons in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting:

SCARBOROUGH: But don’t you hear from Republicans, don’t you hear from conservatives… ‘Hey Congressman you know what, I want a handgun to protect my family. I want a shotgun, but do we really need assault weapons all across America?’

KING: Joe, I fully agree with you. I voted for the Assault Weapons Ban back in 1994. My father was a police officer. I really don’t know why people need assault weapons. I’m not a hunter but I understand people who want to hunt. I understand people who live in rough neighborhoods or have a small business and want to maintain a pistol to protect themselves as long as they’re properly vetted and licensed. But an assault weapon? Listen, I’m sure 99% of people with assault weapons are good Americans. But to give that potential to a mass murderer who would be able to outarm the police who as we saw could carry out the worst devastation? … Why the issue of an assault weapon should even be on the table, why we want to identify with that when it’s a vocal minority, but it is a minority who support these weapons.

Watch it:

King, who serves as the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, introduced a bill banning “knowingly carrying a firearm within 1,000 feet of certain high-profile government officials” following the attempted assassination of Gabby Giffords.

Scarbarough came out for stricter gun control in the days after the Newtown tragedy and President Obama has pledged to pursue new restrictions in the 113th Congress.