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Support for assault weapons ban, background checks gains steam

Former Pennsylvania Gov.
Former Gov. Tom Ridge on Andrea Mitchell Reports.
Former Gov. Tom Ridge on Andrea Mitchell Reports.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge made it clear on Friday that he supports an assault weapons ban and that it should be included in the legislation presented to Congress on gun control. His stance hasn’t changed from when he voted for the assault weapons ban while serving in Congress in 1994.

“The right to bear arms under the Second Amendment is a constitutionally protected right but how far do you go?” Ridge said on Andrea Mitchell Reports. “I think as a veteran and I dare say if you ask any veteran who has used an assault weapon in combat or trained with it, whether or not they think their next door neighbor, as well-intentioned as they are, needs to be able to buy one across the counter, I think most would say absolutely not.”

Ridge also expressed his optimism that a proposal which included both the assault weapons ban and background checks would pass through Congress. He told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the “mood of the nation has changed” and “we have to be honest with one another.”

In dealing with the issue of gun violence, Ridge–who was a member of the panel that investigated the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre–warned that a simple assault weapons ban wouldn’t immediately solve the problem of the increasing gun violence in America.

“During the course of this discussion, nobody is talking to those 25 to 30 people a day who get killed in urban America on one-on-one,” he said. “We're not talking about mental health. There are a lot of other issues. We haven't dealt with a lot of the other cultural issues. It's an important first step, but we shouldn't kid ourselves that the challenge is met simply with an assault weapon ban. “

While he agrees that both the ban and the more thorough background checks are extremely important it wasn’t the only answered and offered some advice to President Barack Obama.

“The debate must continue about urban violence, one-on-one violence, culture issues, and as well as mental health issues.”