Uvalde’s GOP Congressman Won’t Answer Why 18-Year-Olds Can Buy Assault Rifles

·3 min read

The Republican congressman representing Uvalde, Texas simply wouldn’t answer a reporter’s repeated question on why teenagers can legally buy assault rifles.

Instead of answering NBC News correspondent Garrett Haake’s queries, Rep. Tony Gonzales persistently dodged the question, leaning on highly generalized talking points like “we have to be unified” and “there’s so much rhetoric and hate.”

Salvador Ramos, the gunman who killed 19 young children and two school teachers in the horrific Uvalde shooting on Tuesday, legally purchased two AR-15-style assault weapons after he turned 18 this month. He also bought 375 rounds of 5.56 rifle ammunition. He would later post pictures of his “gun pics” on social media.

As conservatives suggest everything from booby traps to door control to address the uniquely American problem of mass shootings, the vast majority of Americans support a variety of comprehensive gun reform measures. That would include 67 percent of the public that approves of an ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

Interviewing Gonzales near the scene of the massacre on Thursday morning, Haake pointedly asked why an 18-year-old can’t buy a beer for another three years but they can purchase an AR-15 in the state.

Gonzales clearly had no response.

“We have to be unified,” he shrugged, apparently trying his level best to avoid the question.

“Why does an 18-year-old in Texas need to be able to buy an assault rifle?” Haake pushed back.

“The reality is this isn’t a new topic,” the Texas Republican deflected once more. “There’s been a lot of legislation that’s been out there.”

“You haven’t answered my question though,” the frustrated NBC reporter pressed again. “Why does an 18-year-old need an AR-15 in the state of Texas?”

Not budging an inch, Gonzales replied: “This is how the legislative process works, Congress determines the laws. Right now we have a Congress that won’t talk to one another. There’s so much rhetoric and hate.”

Eventually, Haake attempted to get Gonzales to at least say on-record what kind of legislation on gun violence he would support in Congress. “The House votes the week you get back on a bill to incentivize states like Texas to put in place ‘red flag’ laws. Would you support that?” Haake asked.

“Right now, Democrats control the House, Democrats control the Senate, Democrats control the White House, what does that mean?” Gonzales shot back. “Any piece of legislation they would want, they can pass, so the Democrats, if they truly wanted to support gun control, they could pass that today.”

Shaking his head, Haake replied, “I know how Congress works,” before pressing the congressman on whether he’d support that bill.

“Well, Democrats control everything. Why have they not passed anything?” Gonzales reiterated. “Now that gets into politics of it, I’m here to support the community. My energy is on the community.”

Speaking to MNSBC anchor José Diaz-Balart following the interview, Haake noted that Gonzales “was wrong on two counts,” pointing out that the House has already passed a universal background checks bill that is currently stalled in the Senate due to the 60-vote threshold needed to clear the filibuster.

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