Angus King: ‘It’s Tough to Define What an Assault Weapon Is’

Maine senator expects some gun control package to pass, but expresses reservations about assault weapons ban


Sen. Angus King (I., Maine) said Monday he is skeptical of an assault weapons ban, as the Vice President Joe Biden prepares to make his recommendations Tuesday.

“The assault weapon ban is a tough one because it’s tough to define what an assault weapon is,” King said in an interview with CBS. “And if we’re just defining it by what it looks like, that doesn’t do much for me. I’m much more interested in the functionality and whether that’s really a different weapon than my buddy’s semi-automatic hunting rifle.”

King noted in the interview that such a ban had not been included in Biden’s remarks last week.

The Maine senator joins a several Democrats who have expressed reservations either from a policy or political standpoint about the ban in the last few weeks — including Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid said he doubts a ban could clear the House in an interview with “Nevada Week in Review,” a public radio program.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) echoed that sentiment Sunday, telling CNN Sunday that a stand-alone assault weapons ban could not pass Congress. Following a Washington Post report last week that said administration officials were considering a package far broader than a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.) said the plan was “way in the extreme.”