Treasure Coast Republican Rep. Brian Mast made waves when he argued that the AR-15 should be banned in a New York Times op-ed last week, and now he's signing on to a bill that would repeal a ban on federal gun violence research.
Winter Park Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy's office said Wednesday that Mast will sign on to her bill that repeals the Dickey amendment, a statute that repeals federal funding for gun violence research. Mast joins Miami Republicans Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Republicans who signed on to the bill after the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history in Parkland, Florida.
"I'm proud of the bipartisan support my bill to repeal the Dickey Amendment has received from members of our Florida congressional delegation," Murphy said in a statement. "Florida has been deeply affected by gun violence for years, and, at minimum, this issue deserves objective facts and honest debate about how to keep our families safe."
Mast, who lost both of his legs while serving as a bomb technician in Afghanistan, has signed on to a host of gun control bills since the Parkland shooting and called on an immediate, temporary ban on weapons like the AR-15 until Congress takes long-term action. The House of Representatives didn't vote on any gun bills this week, and the U.S. Senate is unlikely to do so.
"I am committed to working with anyone—Republicans and Democrats—who is willing to do the hard, bipartisan problem solving needed to come up with a definition that can keep communities safe, while also not casting law-abiding recreational gun owners as criminals," Mast said in a statement. "While that discussion happens, I am asking the President to implement an immediate pause on the sale of AR-15 weapons so not one more person dies as a result of being shot with an AR-15 while Congress determines the best way to define assault weapons. I am also calling on Congressional leadership to vote immediately on already written bipartisan legislation to increase school safety, address the role of mental illness and prevent gun violence."
Mast, who is in his first term, faces a competitive reelection bid in a Treasure Coast district that has switched hands between Democrats and Republicans in recent years.
The White House says Mast and Murphy, along with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, will attend a meeting between lawmakers and President Donald Trump today to discuss school safety and the Parkland shooting.