During a meeting with constituents, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) further detailed his changing gun control views in light of last month’s tragic shooting in Newtown, Conn., voicing concerns over the existence of citizen militias and the proliferation of gun violence.
Casey, a longtime gun advocate who has earned high marks from the National Rifle Association, made headlines last month when he told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he was so deeply impacted by the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that he would support legislation banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips.
“The power of the weapon, the number of bullets that hit each child, that was so, to me, just so chilling, it haunts me. It should haunt every public official,” Casey told the paper.
According to Naked Philadelphian blogger Laura Goldman, who attended the meeting with Casey, the senator further discussed his post-Newtown concerns — including his apprehensions about armed citizen militias.
Casey said, “I was haunted by the reality of 20 kids dead and the possibility of an entire school dying. My daughter asked me, Dad, you have a vote. What are you going to do about it?”
For the first time, he questioned the existence of militias and the unlimited rights of gun owners.
“I do not know how many of my constituents are in the militia category, but as someone who loves his country and sees the government as a force of good for its citizens, I am clearly alarmed by this segment of our society,” said Casey.
Casey’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
As NPR reported, the number of “patriot movement” militia groups have greatly increased during President Obama’s first term. A Southern Poverty Law Center study identified as many as 1,200 of these extremist anti-government organizations in existence as of last spring.
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