Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) will be departing the Senate at the end of the year, after Democrat Elizabeth Warren defeated him in his bid for reelection. But on Wednesday the moderate Republican stayed true to form, becoming the first senator in his party to announce support for a renewed federal assault weapons ban.
In an interview with The Republican/MassLive.com, Brown said that his opinion on such federal legislation -- a version of which expired in 2004 -- had been changed by the recent mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.
"What happened in Newtown where those children were subject to that level of violence is beyond my comprehension. As a state legislator in Massachusetts I supported an assault weapons ban thinking other states would follow suit. But unfortunately, they have not and innocent people are being killed," Brown said. "As a result, I support a federal assault weapons ban, perhaps like the legislation we have in Massachusetts."
The comments mark a change for Brown, who said after the mass shooting this past summer in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., that such measures should be determined at the state level.
Brown also clarified on Wednesday that he thought gun access was only part of the equation, going on to say that measures to improve mental health services should also be considered.
With his new stance, Brown joins his successor, Warren, in backing federal legislation to ban military-style assault weapons, such as the semiautomatic Bushmaster .223 rifle that alleged shooter Adam Lanza reportedly used during the massacre.
Warren, who will be sworn in to her Senate seat in January, said Wednesday that she plans to sign onto the legislation, which will be introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in the upcoming session.
"There can be a place for responsible gun ownership in our society. But no one needs military-grade assault weapons to hunt, and no one needs Rambo-style high capacity magazines to protect their family from intruders,” Warren said, adding that she'd also support legislation to close a gun show loophole that allows some to purchase firearms without background checks.
While Brown is on his way out of the Senate, recent reports that the Bay State's other senator, Democrat John Kerry, is expected to be nominated to take over for Hillary Clinton as secretary of state have led to speculation that Brown will be mounting a bid to return to Capitol Hill as soon as possible.