Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas couldn’t define what assault weapons are after he called to ban the weapons when pressed by Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy Wednesday.
Kennedy asked Mayorkas for his definition of an assault weapon, which he couldn’t define, just one day after he called to ban them in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The exchange happened in the wake of a school shooting in which three students and three adults were killed Monday at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, renewing the debate to ban certain guns. (RELATED: Mayorkas Doubles Down On Previous Statements That The Southern Border Is ‘Secure’ Despite Record Migrant Surge)
“I am not an expert with respect to the definition of the assault bans,” Mayorkas said.
“I defer to the experts, I defer to, for example, the definition of an assault weapon that was codified in the prior iteration of the legislation that was passed and that was in operation when I served as an assistant United States attorney and the United States Attorney in the Central District of California,” Mayorkas added.
In the aftermath of Monday’s shooting the Biden administration called for the banning assault weapons.
“So you would support the prior definition?,” Kennedy asked.
Despite Kennedy’s persistence in questioning, Mayorkas struggled to define what assault weapons are.
“Senator, I must defer to the experts with respect to the definition, but I will tell you for example, military style weapons are of tremendous concern, we are seeing too much devastation,” Mayorkas responded.
“But I mean you, you personally think that we should ban assault weapons and I know you to be an intelligent man and a thinking person. I know you’ve thought about it,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy then asked what Mayorkas meant by “military-style weapon.”
“Senator, I really must say that you are probing a very, very important area definitionally in which I do not have the requisite expertise. I will say this, when we see, when we see the tragedy in Nashville, and it is not the first such tragedy that we see, when I engage with my international counterparts and they ask me almost invariably first what is going on with all the mass killings in the United States and why are these assault weapons disseminated so broadly, I say that we need legislation to ban them,” Mayorkas said.
“Let me follow up on that, so you support an assault weapon ban, but you don’t have a definition, is that correct?,” Kennedy asked.
Mayorkas continued to deflect on what he’s trying to ban.
“Senator, I think that you understand where I stand,” Mayorkas said.
“No, I don’t,” Kennedy said. “I don’t. You made a very bold statement, very firmly saying we should ban all assault weapons and all I’m asking is what in your mind is an assault weapon. I mean you say it’s military-style, does that mean it looks like a military weapon,” Kennedy said.
Mayorkas said he believed he “addressed” Kennedy’s question.
When further pressed by Kennedy, Mayorkas said he would consider an AK-47 to be an assault weapon.
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