Florida Rep. Brian Mast was enjoying a peaceful day at the pool with his kids last week, legally carrying his concealed pistol, when a scary thought struck him.
“I’m looking at all the balconies and thinking of [the massacre] in Las Vegas. I was sitting there with my conceal carry 9mm Glock, and thinking that I would be a sitting duck, and my children would be sitting ducks, for anybody that was sitting up on one of those balconies, and had barricaded themselves in a room, and were ready to go out there, and induce that kind of carnage,” he told ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.
That vulnerable moment triggered him to ask President Donald Trump to push the pause button on certain gun sales, Mast said.
“Let’s pause on selling these weapons that have been used in these incidents, just like the travel ban,” he said. “We’re going to pause 30, 60, 90 days and let’s see who has access. Let’s present some solutions.”
Mast explained to hosts Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein, he wants to take Trump’s model of a travel ban and layer it on a policy of pausing sales of assault rifles until a fail-safe system is put in place to prevent a mass shooter from striking again. Seventeen people were killed on Valentine’s Day when suspect Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Already, Mast, who has only been in Congress for a year, is feeling the heat from his proposed pause, but said that surprisingly, he’s not heard a word from the NRA, who supported his election.
“I haven’t heard from the NRA, but I don’t have to hear from them to know we are at odds on this,” he said.
Mast worked as a bomb disposal expert in the U.S. Army under the elite Joint Special Operations Command in Afghanistan. But his life changed in an instant when he lost both legs to an improvised explosive device. He earned the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart among other honors, but still wanted to serve away from the battlefield.
His experience on the frontlines motivates his call for a temporary ban, he said, explaining that he carried a weapon similar to an AR-15 and has witnessed the damage delivered by a bullet from a high-powered rifle.
“The U.S. Army said, ‘This is the best tool that we can give you to kill our enemies. That’s the best thing we can give you right now to put in your hands in the most dangerous country on the face of the Earth.’ That tool that they gave me is not suited for unfettered access to every person because they are 18 years or older. We are not a safer society because of that,” Mast said.
He also weighed in on Trump’s plan to arm teachers, saying it has serious drawbacks.
“Teachers are people, too,” he said. “They have problems at home and work. We have to be very careful about what we put in a teacher’s hands, too. What if they left a firearm laying around?”
But the loss of one person in particular has made Mast determined to find the middle ground, he said. He attended the funeral of Aaron Feis, his friend who was killed saving students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14.
Mast is not worried about becoming a political casualty because of his controversial stand, he said.
“I never worried about becoming a casualty because it was in the effort of saving lives,” he said. “That was my job as a bomb technician. If anyone thinks I’m going to worry about being some political casualty, it’s going to be the last thing on my mind.
“I try to do what’s right.”