Sen. Angus King (I., Maine) said Tuesday on MSNBC that he does not support a ban on assault weapons, arguing he has a problem with banning a weapon "because of its appearance."
"Morning Joe" co-host Willie Geist asked King whether he believes private citizens should be prohibited from owning a "military-style weapon" or an "AR-15-style weapon" in the wake of Sunday's mass shooting at a church in Texas, where 26 people were killed.
"Do you think it's time for those to be banned, senator?" Geist asked.
"No, I think we've got to look at that carefully," King said, noting that he represents a state, Maine, with one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the country and one of the lowest rates of gun crime. "It's called an assault weapon, but it's simply a semi-automatic hunting rifle in costume, with a different type of stock. But the functionality of the weapon is exactly the same as [ones] used by legitimate hunters."
"So I have a problem with banning a weapon because of its appearance," King added, pointing out that the look of a gun can be changed so the ban would no longer apply. The Maine senator then said lawmakers should look at other issues, like possibly limiting the magazine size that citizens can purchase.
"A lot of times in these [shootings] apparently, it's when the fellow—it's always a fellow—starts to reload, that's when you might have a chance to stop the tragedy," King said. "So magazine size, I think, is something I do think we need to look at."
"But I've never been one to say, yeah, let's get rid of the assault weapons, if they're really a semi-automatic hunting rifle in costume," he added.
Geist followed up by asking King whether hunters in Maine say they need "an AR-15 to hunt deer."
"No, they don't; of course they don't," King said. "But the point is, it's the same gun; it just looks different. And they use a more conventional semi-automatic rifle."