MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a television interview Sunday that he owns an AR-15 weapon in case there is a “natural disaster” and he needs to protect himself and his house against “gangs.”
Talk about regulating assault weapons has come up in the U.S. Senate after recent mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado.
The South Carolina Republican told Fox News host Chris Wallace he would challenge Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to bring the assault weapons ban up to vote for the Senate, WBTW reports.
“It won’t get 50 votes, much less 60,” Graham said.
“I own an AR-15,” Graham continued. “If there’s a natural disaster in South Carolina where the cops can’t protect my neighborhood, my house will be the last one that the gang will come to because I can defend myself.”
“You don’t have to have an AR-15, but if you have one lawfully, I think you should be allowed to keep it,” Graham added.
The debate on gun control has focused in particular on assault-style rifles like AR-15s that have been used in mass shootings.
AR-15-style weapons were used in attacks in Newtown, Connecticut; Las Vegas; and Parkland, Florida. Remington is facing a lawsuit for the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in which a Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle was used to kill 20 first-graders and six educators.
Graham said on Sunday that most of the problems have a lot to do with mental health.
“Count me in for addressing that issue. Red flag laws exist in 19 states. There are some things we can do, but at the end of the day, if you think an assault weapons ban is what the country needs, bring it to the floor of the United States Senate and vote on it,” Graham said.
Critics of Graham’s comments described his thinking as apocalyptic.
“The suggestion that a twerp like Lindsey Graham could be some sort of tough guy fending away apocalyptic invaders is just the narrative they sell. It’s what the gun lobby wants Republicans to say in order to sell more guns,” Parkland shooting survivor and gun reform advocate Cameron Kasky said on MSNBC.
“So now we know that as a US Senator, you have two choices of action during a natural disaster in your state: 1) Fly to Cancun, or 2) Grab your AR-15, barricade your front door and protect yourself from all the ‘gangs.’ Got it,” tweeted Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who was referring to Sen. Ted Cruz and Graham.
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter died in the Parkland shooting, tweeted: “The last thing my daughter saw was an AR 15 as she ran down the hallway at her school in Parkland. One shot severed her spinal cord and killed her. Are you seriously OK with announcing to future school shooters that they need an AR-15 to feel truly safe?”