Sen. Mike Lee on AR-15s: ‘How will the banning of this weapon make us safer?’

SALT LAKE CITY – Senator Mike Lee offered his take on banning assault weapons this week as the shooting in Parkland has sparked more nationwide debate on gun control.

Last week 17 people, most of them students, were shot and killed in Florida.

This week two Utah students were taken into custody after they made social media posts that threatened violence against Springville and Wasatch high schools. Police investigated another reported threat against Timpanogos High School.

State Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, asked Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, about a ban on AR-15s as Lee visited Utah’s Capitol Hill Thursday.

“We’ve had it happen in Colorado," Dabakis said. "We've had it happen in Nevada. It is a ticking time bomb. It is going to happen in a Utah school, can you please tell me why we need AR-15s and assault weapons?

Senator Mike Lee responded.

“There is not, as far as I can tell, a meaningful way to distinguish between the AR-15, on the one hand, and many hunting rifles that are not considered assault weapons, on the other hand,” Lee said.

Lee questioned the logistics of keeping assault weapons out of the hands of criminals.

“There are many millions of these weapons already out there, and once you ban them—if you're going to ban their production and their future sale—you've got those that already exist: What do you do with all of those?” he asked.

He believes a ban will not do enough to protect Utahns.

“How will the banning of this weapon make us safer? Lee asked, later adding “I don’t believe most Utahns would think that that was necessarily the answer."

It’s not clear whether gun control will be on the agenda when Congress returns from recess next week. But with more marches planned across the country, it seems the calls for change aren't going away anytime soon.

“My message for the people in office is this: You’re either with us or against us; we are losing our lives while the adults are playing around,” said Cameron Kasky, a junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.