Leaving Congress, Barney Frank is hopeful about his colleagues’ ‘courage’

Updated
Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat.
Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat.
Steven Senne/AP

In the final days of his congressional career, Massachusetts’s Barney Frank predicts that at least some Republicans will have the courage to join with Democrats in pursuing new gun laws in the wake of the Newtown mass murder.

Frank advocated a handful a reforms, including reinstating the assault weapons ban, and banning large ammunition clips. He also suggested his colleagues take on the loophole that allows gun shows to sell firearms without waiting limits or even background checks in some cases. He said it’s unacceptable that someone could walk into a sale like that and buy a gun with no waiting period, “no matter how mentally and emotionally deranged” that person might be. “It should not be possible anywhere in America to buy a gun without a waiting period,” Frank said.

Rep. Frank argues that the majority of Americans have always been in favor of tougher gun reform laws, but those who were opposed were simply more adamant about their beliefs. The Sandy Hook shootings have awakened the gun-control-favoring majority, giving politicians in Congress the needed cover to get things done. With this new political capital, he thinks, legislators will have “the courage of their convictions.”

Surprisingly, Frank had harsh words for prominent gun control advocate Mayor Mike Bloomberg, criticizing him for supporting Republicans in 2004 when they were allowing the assault weapons ban to expire. “I’m a little puzzled by Mr. Bloomberg pointing fingers at everybody else,” he said. “I don’t remember him telling Tom DeLay he wouldn’t contribute to DeLay’s organization unless he allowed the assault weapons ban to continue.”

As for those arguing that the shootings aren’t because of overly lax gun laws but because God has been “kicked out of schools,” Frank calls that “nonsense.” He argues that none of the religious freedom reforms of the last few decades could have possibly forced God out of school. “Saying that you can’t say a particular prayer in a particular building because there are a variety of people there, if anyone thinks that means that an all-powerful God loses that influence, it’s sacrilegious.”

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Leaving Congress, Barney Frank is hopeful about his colleagues' 'courage'

Updated