Jun 15, 2016 10:33 PM

Hassan interview with NH1 News makes a lot of news

NH1 News Political Director

CONCORD – Pro-Republican groups are spotlighting Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan over comments she made in a one-on-one interview with NH1 News regarding an assault weapons ban.

In the wake of Sunday’s horrific mass murder in Orlando, where the gunman who killed 49 people was armed with an AR-15-type assault weapon and a handgun, both President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton have renewed calls for a new ban on assault style rifles. A similar ban was in effect from 1994 to 2004.

Hassan, who is challenging Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte this year in one of the most high profile, expensive and negative Senate showdowns in the country, spoke with NH1 News on Tuesday minutes after signing into law a statewide expansion of New Hampshire’s drug courts.

When asked by this reporter if she would support a ban on assault weapons, Hassan criticized Ayotte and other senators who voted against a bill that would have banned people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list from purchasing weapons.

“I am very disappointed that the Senate, including Sen. Ayotte, who had a chance to close a critical loophole that might have prevented him from getting this gun, they failed to do that in December. I hope very much that they take up a measure that would say people who are known or suspected terrorists in the United States of America can’t buy this kind of weapon that causes mass causalities and is intended to cause mass casualties,” Hassan said.

Last December Ayotte voted against a Democratic amendment that would have allowed the federal government to ban the sale of firearms to anyone on the terrorist watch list. At the time, Ayotte’s office told NH1 News that she opposed the amendment, put forward by Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein of California, because it didn’t provide enough “due process” for those who felt they were wrongly put on the terrorist watch list.

Instead Ayotte voted with fellow Republicans for an alternative measure sponsored by GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas which Republicans said would allow for “due process.”

On Tuesday Ayotte told NH1 News “I voted for a bill that would allow to make sure that those on the terror watch list don’t have access to guns. And it also had due process protections in place for Americans. So I think we should stop the political football on this and resolve this issue.”

Asked again if she would support an assault weapons ban, Hassan answered “I certainly think that we can take steps to prevent this kind of weapon that is designed to create mass causalities from getting into the hands of the wrong people while still protecting the Second Amendment rights of the people of New Hampshire and making sure that we’re protecting the ownership and use of legitimate hunting rifles.”

On Wednesday, speaking with reporters following a meeting of New Hampshire’s Executive Council, the governor was asked again about her stance on banning assault style weapons.

“I support an appropriate assault weapons ban. There are guns that are designed to inflict mass casualties when they are used. They are appropriate for military use but they are not appropriate for recreational use or hunting. And I am quite confident that we could have an appropriate fair assault weapons ban that still protected legitimate hunting rifles and legitimate recreational weapons,” she said.

Hassan’s Tuesday interview with NH1 News, which took place in a public hallway in the Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester, was recorded by a tracker for the pro-Republican group America Rising, which is considered the top pro-GOP opposition research shop. From there video of the interview made its way to other pro-Republican organizations that concentrate on the battle for the Senate.


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