Fox News' Gretchen Carlson Says She Supports a New Assault Weapons Ban
On Tuesday, Fox News host Gretchen Carlson did something surprising.
Following news that a gunman in Orlando, Florida massacred at least 49 others and wounded at least 50 more at gay nightclub Pulse before dying in a gunfight with authorities, Carlson used a segment of her daily show to come out in favor of reinstating the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.
The law, which lapsed in 2004, prohibited the manufacturing, for civilian use, of semi-automatic weaponry with certain characteristics, as well as high-capacity ammunition magazines.
"There's no doubt Omar Mateen was able to kill so many people because he was firing an AR-15," Carlson told the audience of her show, The Real Story With Gretchen Carlson. "A military-style assault weapon, a weapon easier to buy in the state of Florida than buying a handgun. Florida sets a three day waiting period for purchasing handguns, but the state mandates no waiting period for any gun that requires two hands to hold."
"Do we need AR-15s to hunt and kill deer? Do we need them to protect our families?" she continued. "I'm in favor of people being able to carry. I think some of these mass shooting would have been less deadly if that were the case."
"But I'm also with the majority today, taking a stand," the host concluded. "Can't we hold true the sanctity of the Second Amendment while still having common sense? ... I know a lot of you aren't going to agree with me today. That's fine. That's what makes America great."
It didn't go over well with some of her conservative fans on Twitter:
However, Carlson is right that she stands with the majority, in that a recent Quinnipiac poll demonstrated 58% of Americans support a ban on assault weapons sales — including 45% of gun owners. Pew Research Center polls have shown support for such a ban has held steady since at least 2013.
It's a definite change of pace for Carlson, who once suggested Obama's executive actions on gun control were counterproductive, and as recently as October 2015, denounced talk of more gun laws as political nonsense.
"Instead of immediately jumping to political talk — like 'we need more gun control' to 'we already have enough laws on the books' to 'we need to protect individual gun ownership rights' to ' we need to make it more difficult for people to obtain weapons,'" Carlson said following a mass shooting at Umpqua Community College in October, "... we need a solution, a multi-tiered approach, and not just political talk."
In December, she also criticized the president for bringing up gun control in the wake of mass shootings linked to Islamic extremists in Paris and San Bernardino, California, posting to Twitter "what about all the bombs they had 2blow us up?" [sic].
However, for many supporters of further restrictions on firearms in the wake of the shooting, Carlson's support must be a breath of fresh air.