POLITICS

Al Franken Backs Assault Weapons Ban (UPDATED)

ADDS THAT THE LEGISLATION WAS APPROVED BY THE COMMITTEE - FILE - In this May 10, 2011, file photo, Senate Privacy, Technology
ADDS THAT THE LEGISLATION WAS APPROVED BY THE COMMITTEE - FILE - In this May 10, 2011, file photo, Senate Privacy, Technology and the Law subcommittee Chairman Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn. presides over the subcommittee's hearing on "Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy," on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Senate Judiciary Committee approve legislation on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, that would close a legal loophole that allows so-called cyberstalking apps to operate secretly on a cell phone and transmit the user’s location information without a person’s knowledge. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

UPDATE:: 11:30 a.m. -- Franken released a statement Thursday saying that in fact, he definitively supports the principle of an assault weapons ban after ducking the issue at the press event Wednesday.

"I also support the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons, and I will carefully review any proposal to do that," he said. "We need to make sure we don’t have weapons out there that are really designed for the battlefield, and not for hunting."

See the whole statement from Franken below.

EARLIER: Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) appeared to be taking a cautious route on President Barack Obama's proposal for a renewed ban on assault weapons, after a spokesman declined comment Wednesday on whether he supported the ban and omitted it from a list of gun control steps Franken would support.

The Rochester Post-Bulletin reported that at an event in Rochester, Minn., Franken said he supported limiting magazines more than 10 rounds and tightening background checks. Franken did not mention the assault weapons ban and his spokesman Marc Kimball told the paper, "I guess I don't have an answer for you."

"He's been listening to Minnesota, trying to be thoughtful on this and trying to get input from people from a wide spectrum of views," said Kimball.

Franken is up for re-election in 2014 after winning in an extremely close race in 2008. He has generally shied away from the national media as senator, following a career as an outspoken liberal pundit and "Saturday Night Live" writer.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) went further than Franken Friday, expressing doubt that an assault weapons ban could pass the Senate. "Is it something that can pass the Senate? Maybe. It is something that can pass the House? I doubt it," he said on "Nevada Week In Review."

He walked back the comment Wednesday, releasing a statement thanking the president's task force for recommendations. "I am committed to ensuring that the Senate will consider legislation that addresses gun violence and other aspects of violence in our society early this year," he said, adding "all options should be on the table moving forward."

The full statement from Franken:

My heart is heavy over the tragedy that occurred in Connecticut and my thoughts are with those who are grieving. I’ve always supported the Second Amendment rights of Minnesotans to own firearms for collection, protection, and sport. But I also think we need to find a balance between those rights and the safety of our children and our communities. I co-sponsored legislation to large clips like those used in so many mass shootings. I also support the principle that we should reinstate a ban on assault weapons, and I will carefully review any proposal to do that. We need to make sure we don’t have weapons out there that are really designed for the battlefield, and not for hunting. In the days and weeks ahead, I’m going to consult closely with all of the affected communities in the state – and that includes people like hunters, educators, parents, and other elected officials – about the best path forward.

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