Rep. Thomas Massie: ‘You Had a Ban on Assault Rifles in 1999 When Columbine Happened’

By Melanie Arter | February 26, 2018 | 11:34am EST
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) (Screenshot)

( – Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that it’s “ridiculous” to raise the minimum age to buy an AR-15 to 21, and he noted that the assault weapons ban was in place in 1999 – the year of the Columbine High School shooting.

“You had a, a ban on assault rifles in 1999 when Columbine happened,” Massie said. “The so-called assault weapons ban, lasted from '94 to 2004. Columbine fell right in the middle of that. The assault weapons ban would do nothing to stop school shootings.”


On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and wounded more than 20 others at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., before fatally shooting themselves in what was considered at the time to be the worst high schools shooting in U.S. history.

Massie said background checks don’t stop criminals or school shootings. He pointed to Columbine and the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, which claimed the lives of 26 people.

Devin Patrick Kelley, the gunman who shot up the First Baptist Church in rural Texas in November 2017, was court-martialed from the Air Force on charges of assaulting his wife and child. The Air Force failed to provide send Kelley’s criminal record to the FBI, which would have likely disqualified Kelley from buying a gun. Federal authorities have complained for years about incomplete databases and understaffing, which makes it hard to keep up with background check requests.

Massie pointed out that the Columbine shooters got other people to buy guns for them and that one of the straw purchasers who went to jail was 22 when he went to prison –  above the legal age to buy a gun. In the case of the Sandy Hooks Elementary school shooting in Newton, Conn., 20-year-old Adam Lanza stole his mother’s weapons and fatally shot her before he killed 26 people at the school – 20 of them children.

“You’re trying to put lipstick on a pig,” Massie said when asked whether the issue was that the background check system was flawed.

“Look, you could put all the information you want in it, but the shooter in Connecticut who stole his mother’s firearms and shot her before he committed the crime wouldn’t-- isn’t going to be stopped by a background check,” he said.

“Neither were the two perpetrators in Columbine who got other people to buy the guns for them. One of them. One of the straw purchasers went to prison for that, because talk about the handgun, you know 21 age. The guy who went to prison he was 22, and he sold a handgun to one of the perpetrators who was 17,” Massie said.

“Look, people, criminals are going to get a hold of guns. What we’ve got to look at is what’s the solution,” he said. “The solution frankly, you could put more guards at schools if you have one guard it’s probably a waste of money because you’re just endangering that guard unless you have two guards, and anybody that is in security profession knows that. But what you need are some of the teachers who are armed."


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