A day after President Donald Trump endorsed red flag laws to “make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms, and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process,” an NRA-backed Texas Republican congressman is pushing back.
In a Fox News interview on Tuesday, Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) attacked the popular bipartisan proposal as an “infringement of constitutional rights.”
Babin, a third-term congressman who has already received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the firearms industry, proposed instead that Washington enact his own bill that would promote threat assessment but not expand any gun laws.
During the interview, Babin was asked about efforts by lawmakers such as Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) to enact red flag legislation to keep guns out of the hands of people like those responsible for two mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Babin acknowledged that such laws might help keep people safe, but decried them anyway.
“Red flag laws do have potential to stop it, but also to do harm as well. Because a red flag law is an infringement, can be used to infringe upon your constitutional rights. Not saying it will happen, but it could happen,” he explained.
He then held up a handwritten sheet of paper, to propose his “Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act of 2019” (TAPS Act), calling it a “solution.”
“This will not be an infringement on anyone’s civil rights, a way to be able to grab someone’s guns or lock them up, or do anything like that,” he boasted, noting that “this is not an expansion of any law.”
Babin’s proposed legislation calls for increased funding to assess threats, but expressly prohibits any of those funds being used to teach gun safety or to “encourage or discourage the otherwise legal ownership and use of firearms.”
Pushed as to whether it is appropriate for civilians to have access to AK-47s that can kill many people in mere seconds, Babin dismissed the idea and parroted the NRA’s frequent talking points.
“We always [see a] knee-jerk reaction, the Democrats go to gun-control, the Republicans go to ‘let’s arm everybody.’ We have to get away from the weapon and the instrument of use here. We’ve got to be proactive…” he answered. “Once the first shot is fired, you’re too late. You can’t be reactive and that’s why we have to be proactive. The TAPS Act, HR 838, would be proactive. We can get this and do it bipartisanly. The people want it.”
Polls show that what most people want is action. More than three-fifths of Americans believe gun laws should be “more strict than they are now.” Some 92% support requiring universal background checks for all gun purchases and a sizable majority also supports a ban on the sale of semi-automatic assault rifles. Still, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has thus far blocked all meaningful action on gun violence and has ignored calls to bring the Senate back from recess to consider legislation.
Babin’s official House website boasts of his intransigent gun rights positions. “I know firsthand the importance of gun ownership to those of us who call the Lone Star State home,” he writes. “I am fully committed to supporting the Second Amendment as a protected right guaranteed to individuals in the U.S. Constitution. My work in the Congress has earned me top ratings from the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Gun Owners of America (GOA).”
“As a Member of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus and the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus,” he added, “we are working to protect these rights from gun-grabbing extremists.”