Senator who weakened background checks says they are all we need

James Lankford (R-OK) said AR-15s are not the problem.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) on Meet the Press
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) on Meet the Press on Sunday. CREDIT: NBC screenshot.

Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) defended the current lax gun laws that make it easy to buy semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15 used in the horrific Parkland school shooting and a large number of previous mass murders, urging only better background checks. But his own actions have repeatedly undermined the background check process.

When asked by Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, whether it should be harder to purchase an AR-15, Lankford said he did not.

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“I think what should be is difficult for any person with any kind of criminal background history, domestic violence, or mental illness regardless, I don’t care whether they’re being a .22 pistol or a AR-15, we have good, clear, strong background checks on each person.”

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A surprised Todd responded, “we don’t have a strong background check system.” Lankford answered by noting one bill he supports to improve data collection for the background check system, but neglected to mention that his own votes have contributed to this problem.

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Lankford voted in 2015 against “Manchin-Toomey,” a bipartisan proposal that would have ensured universal background checks for gun purchases by closing the gun show loophole that allows private purchases to evade any background check at all.

Lankford also voted last year to repeal an Obama administration rule that would have provided the names of people receiving treatment for some mental disorders to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

In 2016, Lankford also opposed efforts to keep those on the terrorist watch list from buying guns.

Lankford has previously received the National Rifle Association’s endorsement and at least $11,500 in campaign donations from the group.