Moulton solidifies national reputation as assault weapon foe

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, the first-term Democrat from Salem and veteran of the Iraq War, has endeared himself to national anti-gun activists after taking a hard line against the sale of semiautomatic weapons to civilians.

Days after a gunman slaughtered 49 innocents in the name of Islam at an Orlando gay bar, Moulton graced the front page of the New York Daily News — clad in full military gear:

The New York Daily News headline declared, “No one should own this gun,” yet the military-grade automatic gun in Moulton’s possession, a Colt M-4 carbine, is already off-limits to civilians. In a column published Sunday, the National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson seized upon the Daily News headline, correctly pointing out that Moulton’s gun “has literally never for a second been for sale to the civilian market in the United States.”

Pro-gun advocates were quick to point out the difference between Moulton’s automatic weapon and the semi-automatic weapon used in the Orlando shooting spree. Moulton, however, claimed that his weapon in Iraq featured a semi-automatic option that was preferable for Marines:

Moulton also claims he’s a 2nd Amendment supporter, albeit with certain conditions:

It’s a stance that Williamson slammed in his column, without mentioning Moulton specifically.

“The only honest people on the anti-gun side are those forthrightly making the case that we should repeal the Second Amendment,” Williamson wrote. “If that’s your case — that Americans simply cannot be entrusted with the wide ballistic latitude enshrined in the Bill of Rights — fine, make that case — we’ll see you at the ballot box.”

But Williamson also avoided addressing a central point which Moulton made in his own op-ed in the Daily News: “There’s simply no reason for a civilian to own a military-style assault weapon. It’s no different than why we outlaw civilian ownership of rockets and landmines.”

Moulton’s argument is witnessing some traction nationally. A CBS poll, conducted immediately after the Orlando massacre, found that 57 percent of Americans favor a ban on assault weapons, while only 38 percent oppose it.  Six percent remain unsure. An identical poll conducted in early December found that 44 percent supported a ban while 50 percent opposed it. The results indicate Americans are beginning to warm to the idea of a ban on assault weapons, although the fact that the latest poll was conducted immediately after Orlando’s horrific shooting could explain the significant shift.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a legal challenge from gun rights advocates to strike down assault weapons bans enacted in Connecticut and New York.

Last week, after his Daily News op-ed went viral, Moulton was also one of several lawmakers who openly shunned a Congressional moment of silence held in honor of Orlando’s victims. Moulton labeled such moments of silence as “political acts” in explaining his decision:

During a radio interview with WRKO AM 680, Moulton defended his decision to walk out on the moment of silence, saying it’s “disrespectful to have all these people die and then not be willing to prevent it from happening in the future.”

Asked again if he thought it was the right thing to do, Moulton expressed no doubts.

“Oh absolutely,” he said. “It’s clearly what’s supported by my constituents. We do too much standing around here in Washington and what we need to do is find the courage to take action on these issues.”

Listen to the complete interview here.