Bill O'Reilly stunned many viewers Tuesday night when he called for some measures of gun control to be implemented after the terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida, that claimed the lives at least 49 people — the deadliest mass shooting in US history.
After criticizing liberal politicians for not being aggressive enough on the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group, the Fox News host addressed the "right-wing responsibility" after the attack carried out by 29-year-old Omar Mateen using an assault weapon and a handgun.
"There is too much gun crime in the USA, and high-powered weaponry is too easy to get," he said. "That's the fact. So let's deal with it. We all have the right to bear arms, but we don't have the right to buy and maintain mortars. Even if you feel threatened by gangsters or a New World Order. No bazookas, no Sherman tanks, no hand grenades."
"That's because the Second Amendment clearly states the government has a right to regulate militias, made up of individuals," he continued. "They have that right in the name of public safety. Therefore, Congress should debate what kind of weapons should be available for public sale. And the states, the individual states, should decide what kind of carry laws are good for their own people."
O'Reilly said new laws were "definitely needed" in the face of new terrorist threats and mass murders.
"The FBI and other federal agencies need the power to stop suspected terrorists or other evildoers from buying weapons," he said. "That law needs to be very precise."
"Also, gun dealers all across America should be required to report the sale of certain kinds of guns, heavy weapons, directly to the FBI," he continued. "Not handguns, not talking about that, but other weapons that would be defined by Congress. That is a sane approach and would make it a lot tougher for the Omar Mateens of the world to get the weaponry to kill."
Watch O'Reilly's remarks below:
The remarks represented a shift to the political left from where O'Reilly stood on the issue in January, when President Barack Obama announced executive actions aimed at gun control after the San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack.
Back then, the news personality advocated tougher criminal sentences for those who commit gun crimes but no laws limiting the purchasing of weapons.
"The truth is, terrorists are not going to submit themselves to background checks — neither are dangerous felons or insane people," he said during his January 6 program. "They are not going to sign any paper when they buy a gun. Do we all get that? They will buy their guns on the black market. And no registration law will prevent that."
On Tuesday, Fox News host Gretchen Carlson also expressed similar newfound gun-control sentiment.
"Every time we have a mass shooting we talk about guns. Right? Yes," she said. "The Orlando massacre was terror. But there's no doubt that Omar Mateen was able to kill so many people because he was firing an AR-15, a military-style assault weapon, a weapon easier to buy in the state of Florida than buying a handgun."
"Do we need AR-15s to hunt and kill deer?" Carlson asked. "Do we need them to protect our families? Yes, I'm in favor of people being able to carry. I think some of these mass shootings would have been less deadly if that were the case. But I'm also with the majority today taking a stand. Can't we hold true the sanctity of the Second Amendment while still having common sense?"
Senate Democrats are making a renewed push to pass a bill barring people on the terror watch list from buying weapons. That bill was shot down late last year on a virtual party-line vote.
During a Monday conference call, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York said that if the bill were passed when first brought before the Senate in December, the Orlando terrorist attack would have been avoided.
In December, just one day after the San Bernardino attack, Senate Republicans rejected the bill stopping suspected terrorists from buying weapons. The counterargument to the bill is that, since people can be placed on a terror watch list — such as the no-fly list — without due process, then a citizen could be wrongly stripped of his or her Second Amendment right.
The bill failed on a 54-45 vote.
Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump expressed openness to discussing such legislation in a Wednesday tweet.
"I will be meeting with the NRA, who has endorsed me, about not allowing people on the terrorist watch list, or the no-fly list, to buy guns," he wrote.
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