As members of Congress debated Monday evening on four gun bills - none of which were expected to pass - a Western New York lawmaker suggested there is common ground Democrats and Republicans may find, if they're willing to identify and act against the "real enemy." As Republican Tom Reed sees it, it's not the guns.
Reed (R, NY-23) hosted his weekly conference call Monday and, after discussing last week's passage of defense spending faced questions about his stance on legislation regarding gun sales and attempts to purchase them by individuals on a terror watch list.
The Congressman, who represents the Southern Tier and western Finger Lakes, says the Orlando shootings were not the result of a lack of gun control but rather because of radical Islamic terrorism. He suggested GOP peers and Democrats could establish common ground from which to address the gun issue, if they're willing to mutually identify the enemy.
"It is about radical Islamic terrorism that is now manifesting itself on American soil," Reed said. "Let's come together where we can unite. Let's define our enemy and let's defeat it."
The congressman was also asked about the American Medical Association's push to overturn legislation that has prevented the Centers for Disease Control from conducting direct research on gun violence. The AMA's call came after declaring gun violence a "public health crisis."
Reed wouldn't speak to the motives of the AMA but suggested the Second Amendment has come under attack from "different vectors." He insists he and his colleagues will not be flexible in their defense of the amendment.
"Obviously there's always a concern that our Second Amendment rights are being attacked from many fronts and I'm going to stand firm because I believe in that right," he said. "It's part of our freedoms. It's who we are as a people. I will tell you that the continuation of the attacks is something that we're going to stand firm against."
He still holds out hope, though, that there can be movement in the gun debate and some agreement between the two major parties.
"As we deal with the issue of gun violence in America, I think there's some common ground that we can come to. Go after the drug dealers, the felons. If you look at the bulk of the gun violence that's happening in our inner cities, it's gang-related. It's drug related. Let's get to the drug pushers. Let's get to the drug dealers and really hold them accountable."
Also Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected challenges to assault weapons bans in New York and Connecticut. The justices left in place a lower court ruling that upheld laws that were passed in response to another mass shooting involving a semi-automatic weapon, the elementary school attack in Newtown, CT. The December 2012 massacre left 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School dead.
The High Court has repeatedly turned away challenges to gun restrictions since two landmark decisions that spelled out the right to a handgun to defend one's own home. In December, less than a month after a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented when the court refused to hear an appeal to overturn a Chicago suburb's ban on assault weapons.
Seven states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws banning assault weapons. The others are California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and New Jersey, according to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In addition, Minnesota and Virginia regulate assault weapons, the center said.