In an interview with the Daily Times Herald in Carroll, Iowa, state Rep. Dan Muhlbauer said governments should start confiscating semi-automatic rifles and other firearms.
Muhlbauer, a Democrat from the western Iowa town of Manilla, is a cattleman and farmer. The newspaper reported that he owns a .410 shotgun, a .22 rifle and a .22 pistol.
“We cannot have big guns out here as far as the big guns that are out here, the semi-automatics and all of them,” Muhlbauer told the newspaper during a December 19 audiotaped interview. “We can’t have those running around out here. Those are not hunting weapons.”
“We should ban those in Iowa,” he said, adding that such a ban should be applied retroactively.
“We need to get them off the streets — illegally — and even if you have them, I think we need to start taking them,” Muhlbauer told the Daily Times Herald. “We can’t have those out there. Because if they’re out there they’re just going to get circulated around to the wrong people. Those guns should not be in the public’s hands. There are just too many guns.”
The newspaper published excerpts from the interview Wednesday morning along with an audio recording of the full 15-minute interview.
“We have to change, and we have to get stricter and tougher with what we do,” Muhlbauer said.
The interview took place in the week immediately following the Dec. 14 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that left 20 children dead.
“With all these shootings going on we have to start making radical changes and radical choices from what we’ve done in the past,” Muhlbauer said.
Republican Rep. Steve King, who represents western Iowa in Congress, is a gun-rights supporter who warned during an October 2012 debate against Democrat Christie Vilsack that the purpose of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution “is to guard against tyranny because our Founding Fathers understood that if you did not have an armed populace, a tyrant could take over America.”
“So we have a responsibility not just to defend the Second Amendment in words, but do so in deed by hunting and target practicing and also self-defense,” King said.
One of King’s constituents published a letter from King on Jan. 2 in an online gun-rights forum. In the letter, the congressman said he was “heartbroken” by the Newtown, Conn. shooting but called the tragedy “the act of an evil, and likely deranged, individual intent on committing horrifying acts of violence.”
In the audio recording, Muhlbauer blamed violent videogames, in part, for a coarsening of American gun culture.
“We’ve got these videogames out here for these little kids,” he said. “Maybe it’s time we start pulling them away, as far as — you know, they’re playing some really nasty games on there that are shoot-em-up and whatever — and evidently our culture is pulling you toward this. We’ve got to come up with ways to find out, you know, what’s triggering this, what has happened, We’ve had too many of these cases go on.”
Muhlbauer stopped short of supporting legislation to prohibit children from playing violent videogames. “I don’t know how you go about that,” he said.
But he didn’t mince words when advocating for new gun laws, including mental-health screening, gun buy-backs and “penalties” for Iowans found with semi-automatic weapons.
“We have not done enough in the past,” he said, referring to “shooters coming into schools.”
“And this is running away from us, and we cannot have this anymore.”
Later in the interview, Muhlbauer seemed to embrace a position articulated by National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre during his widely publicized Dec. 21 press conference.
“We need to tighten up the schools,” he said, with metal detectors.
Asked if armed security guards should be a requirement in every Iowa school, he replied, “you know what, if it keeps going, possibly, that might be something we need to do. We have to break this trend.”
During his two years in the Iowa Legislature, Muhlbauer has not co-sponsored any legislation related to guns. He did co-sponsor a bill during his first month in office that would have required hunting guides and outfitters to register for licenses with the state Department of Natural Resources.