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Mr. NELSON of Florida. Madam President, I wish to talk about the issue of gun violence.
Our hearts are still heavy from the reminders of what happened in Connecticut, and I want to say that I come to this issue from a position of moderation and common sense. I come to this issue having grown up in the country as a hunter. I grew up on a ranch. I have had guns all my life. I am very familiar with guns. And to this day I still enjoy hunting quail and pheasant with my son. But is there anybody who realistically doesn't believe we ought to have a criminal background check for the person who is purchasing a gun?
I am very encouraged to hear that Senator Manchin and Senator Toomey have come together to find a way to close the gun show loophole. That is instructive.
In my State of Florida, years ago we amended the State constitution with an overwhelming vote of the people in Florida, and then there were ways that in practice had been found to subvert the law that was the will of the people in our State--that you can't purchase a gun at a gun show without having a criminal background check. What they do is they say: I will consider you a personal friend, and therefore that is an exception to doing a background check on you. So Senator Manchin and Senator Toomey have come to an agreement to find a way to close that gun show loophole, and that proposal will also establish a commission to better understand the root causes of how to prevent mass violence.
There is simply no reason we shouldn't be able to do a criminal background check, which is one way to find out the intention of somebody who is buying a gun. If you bring it back to basics, it is all about common sense, and it is especially so given the circumstances in which we find ourselves where people are slaughtering children.
Is there anybody who thinks we need ammunition clips for 60 rounds? That is not common sense. When I go hunting, if it is quail, I usually have two shotgun shells in the gun. If you are going to give the quail a chance and if it is hunting instead of killing, then let's see how good a marksman you are. So I can't see any reason that common sense would dictate that we would have more than 10 rounds in a clip. Yet people want to go out and buy clips for 60 rounds. I think that is telling us something about their intention. I voted on this back in 2004, to extend the existing law that came out of the 1990s. We said in that legislation that 10 and fewer is OK.
Now, is that not reasonable? Is that not common sense? So if we don't reasonably have a need for more than 10, then that is where we ought to draw it in the law.
Then there is another element of common sense; that is, why assault weapons? I served, wearing the uniform of this country. The U.S. military has assault weapons. People are going out and buying these AK-47s that are a derivative of the same weapon that was used by the North Vietnamese against us in the Vietnam war. And I simply ask this question: Are these guns for hunting or are they for killing? And if the legitimate answer is that they are not for hunting or for some collector's purposes, then they have another purpose. Obviously, that is what they were designed for--as an assault-type weapon in a combat circumstance.
So how do we approach the legitimate recognition of the second amendment, the right to bear arms, with assault weapons? And I don't think we can. It seems that among people of good will, using common sense and moderation, that we can come to some definitions that would ban these types of assault weapons. Now, we are probably not going to have the votes to pass it here, but we need to take the vote and we need to see how everybody feels about this issue.
I wish to conclude by saying that those of us who are portrayed, by taking this position of moderation and common sense, as if we were not for the second amendment, that is false. Of course I support the second amendment. I just gave you my history of growing up in the country with guns, having guns all my life and still having a number of guns in my home today. I support the second amendment. I do so in light of the circumstances in our society today that have changed.
My final comment is that in all of this it is moderation and common sense that are so much the solution to facing the issues that confront us today, and here is another example. Let's use a little common sense.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
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