BOSTON — Gun control is entering the debate between Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ed Markey and his Republican rival, Gabriel Gomez — and a new television ad is prompting the sparring.
Markey’s latest ad points out his opposition to the National Rifle Association. It claims Markey will “continue to fight for common-sense laws to stop gun violence.”
“Gomez is against banning high-capacity magazines, like the ones used in the Newtown school shooting,” the ad also says.
But Gomez took issue with that last reference to Newtown.
“I’m a father of four young kids,” Gomez said during a press conference in South Boston on Friday. “For him to go this low and try to attack me on a negative ad like that and to tie me to a Newtown massacre is below the low. I bucked my party, and I’ve supported the Toomey-Manchin bill that would have had further background checks on gun sales, and I went against my party on that. And I firmly believe when I go down there, I’m going to fight to make sure that bill goes through.”
Markey told WBUR he is just trying to highlight the difference between Gomez and himself on assault weapons.
“All I’m saying is that I support a ban on those weapons, and that Gabriel Gomez opposes the ban. That is the difference between us. That is his position. And he should stand up and defend his position,” Markey said.
Gomez defended his position, reaffirming the importance of background checks over a full ban.
“We had an assault weapons ban in 1994, and the effects of that assault weapon ban weren’t what the proponents of it had. Violence went up. Deaths went up. Homicides went up. And on top of that, we already have an assault weapons ban here in Massachusetts,” Gomez said. “I think we need to focus on what the core issue is, and that’s what the Toomey-Manchin bill is, and that’s the only bill we’re going to be voting on when we get down to D.C.”
Markey, on the other hand, explained why he thinks an assault weapons ban is needed.
“I am supporting a ban because we have to reduce the number of times we have to pick up the newspaper and see that young people or old people have been killed with guns that should not be in the hands of these criminals,” he said.
Although Gomez defends other people’s right to own assault weapons, he said he doesn’t keep any guns in his house.
“I don’t own any weapons, but I can tell you: I don’t need any weapon if somebody goes near my house,” he said.
Gomez is a former U.S. Navy SEAL.