Outlining his defense of such weapon ownership during a press conference at Palmetto State Armory in his home state of South Carolina, he said: “Why would anybody need to own an AR-15? If there is a breakdown of law and order, and that can happen. We’ve seen it happen in our major cities. Remember Hugo? Where people were isolated for days. Remember Katrina. It’s not impossible to find yourself, in the modern world, without any police protection.”
Graham criticized President Joe Biden‘s push for such a ban. He also said Democrats‘ recent bills on background checks go “too far,” though said he was open to discuss expanding checks “in a common sense way.”
Criticizing lawmakers across the aisle whose stances he opposes, Graham said: “Democrats are basically declaring war on gun ownership.”
Graham also criticized the long expired 1994 assault weapons ban and suggested that this did not reduce crime.
Following the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado last month, Biden said: “We can ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines in this country, once again. I got that done when I was a Senator. It passed. It was a law for the longest time and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.”
While each gave conclusive takes of the impact of the prior ban, assessments of its impact are unclear. A 2004 report published by the Department of Justice said the ban’s success in reducing criminal use of the banned guns and magazines was “mixed.”
Graham, in comments made to The Washington Examiner in March, said: “I want a vote on an assault weapons ban. I own an AR-15. Now why do I own it? Because I have the right to own it, and I choose to own it.
“If there were a vote tomorrow to ban assault weapons, I’ll make a prediction. A majority of the Senate would reject that vote. There are Democrats living in red states that cannot vote for an assault weapons ban.”
In a statement issued on the third anniversary of the Parkland shooting, Biden urged Congress to “enact common sense gun law reforms, including requiring background checks on all gun sales, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and eliminating immunity for gun manufacturers who knowingly put weapons of war on our streets.”
Newsweek has contacted Graham’s office and the White House for comment.