Ottawa Times: Kinzinger defends proposed gun law changes in Ottawa speech
Congressman also says issue goes deeper than laws
Two days after Congressman Adam Kinzinger wrote a lengthy response to the weekend mass shootings advocating to raise the age to buy a long gun to 21, ban certain high-capacity magazines and require universal background checks, he reiterated the call for those proposals.
Kinzinger explained his reasoning as the guest speaker Wednesday at the Ottawa Noon Rotary.
While he believes new laws will help mitigate some of the violence, he said it also goes beyond what Congress can do.
"There's some things we can do," Kinzinger told members and guests of the Ottawa Noon Rotary. "The answer is our heart, and I can't legislate the heart from Washington, D.C. That's where the community, the churches, the synagogues and mosques come into place. They can help guide people to a better future and give them hope."
The Channahon Republican said a feeling of hopelessness leads to "lone-wolf acts of violent shooting," the same hopelessness he said allows ISIS to recruit somebody or a gang.
"If you don't have hope, you don't have any reason to follow a moral code," he said.
He believes people should adopt a set of moral standards that he said comes automatic to his Christian belief, but said any person of faith, atheist or agnostic should set a moral standard beyond U.S. laws.
"If you become suicidal and you decide you want to take a bunch of people out with you, the law is not going to prevent you from doing it, because the law has no power," he said.
Kinzinger expressed a frustration with the political climate, not only in the disagreements between both sides, but also how quickly the conversation becomes political. He said both sides think too much about how the issue will affect the 2020 election.
"There is a breakdown of trust in this country, not just on this issue, unfortunately on every issue that exists, a breakdown of trust," Kinzinger said. "We don't want to listen to anyone who disagrees with us. We don't want to listen to anybody's opinion."
He said he endorses the Second Amendment and concealed carry, but by listening to other viewpoints, he believes there are areas where both sides can agree.
He said the law currently restricts someone younger than 21 from buying a handgun. He said the reason the age was left at 18 or older to buy a long gun was to allow for hunting.
"Right now that's being used for young people, many times with a grudge in high school for instance when they were expelled or just out of high school, to go buy not a shotgun, but an AR-15," said Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran who said he owns an AR-15 and enjoys the sport of it.
"I also know that when you're between the ages 18 and 20, you don't think the same as you do when you're 21. I know when you're at the age of 18 and you're out of high school and you break up in a relationship or you felt mistreated or bullied, most people won't go and buy one and shoot up their classmates, but some will. The reality is what can we do to begin to mitigate the issue of shooting and violence in our schools, and I think one of the things is to say we need to raise the age of long gun purchase to 21."
The congressman also defended universal background checks, noting most gun purchases already have them and they are not burdensome.
"I think that every weapon transfer or gun purchase should now be subject to a background check," he said. "Now that doesn't mean it has to be overly burdensome, doesn't mean if I'm going to buy Jerry's gun from him we have to walk into an FFL, a federal dealer and pay an exorbitant fee to have a background check. It's easy for our country to create a form he can fill out and I can sign to submit, and he's not authorized to actually relinquish that gun until that comes back clean."
Kinzinger said there is no need for the 100-round ammunition drums used in the Dayton, Ohio, shooting, comparing them to bump stocks, which he also opposes.
"They're fun to shoot once if you're into shooting guns, and then you realize you waste ammo and they're totally inaccurate unless you're on the 20th floor shooting into a giant black void at anybody," Kinzinger said, referencing the use of bump stocks in the Las Vegas mass shooting. "The same holds for at least 100-round ammo drums."
Kinzinger's call for universal background checks is a change of heart. He voted against a universal background check bill in February.
His message to the Ottawa crowd Wednesday was to find common ground.
"If we can make some restrictions to begin to mitigate this problem, instead of going to our corners and arguing even yet another thing we don't agree on — how about we find the things we can agree on? And hope that makes an impact."
'What do you think we're doing with these video games'
Kinzinger was asked by a man in attendance Wednesday what the congressman believed has changed. The man said he watches violence on "The Black List" on television and his son plays video games involving shooting.
Kinzinger said 55% of World War II soldiers were unwilling to fire at the enemy the first time they had the opportunity. More than two decades later, 98% of Vietnam War soldiers were able to do so.
He said the difference was how soldiers were trained.
"In World War II we trained shooters on a circle target. In Vietnam we started training soldiers on a target shaped like a man, because there is a natural trigger in your brain that prevents you from killing a human being," the congressman said. "Now if simply shooting at target practice at a silhouette can turn off that instinct, what do you think we're doing with these video games?"
Kinzinger said he does not agree with any bans on video games, but he said parents should be aware of the influence.
The original article can be found on the Ottawa Times website, MyWebTimes, here.