Castro Brothers Call for Shift in Gun Laws

PHOTO: Texas State Rep. Joaquín Castro of San Antonio introduced his brother, San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro, at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 24, 2011.

San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro and his twin brother Joaquín, a Democrat set to represent Texas in the next Congress, think a reexamination of gun laws is in order in the wake of the Newtown school shooting that left 20 children dead.

The two men discussed the gun control debate with journalist and television host Charlie Rose during a roundtable on Monday, with Julián saying he backs the renewal of the assault weapons ban.

"I believe that Senator Feinstein has it right with regard to the assault weapons ban, that it ought to be reintroduced," he said.

See Also: 3 Reasons Gun Laws Are Difficult to Change

But the mayor called gun rights "a complex issue," saying that he does not support eliminating the right to bear arms; he just thinks it should be regulated.

"There is a feeling that the Second Amendment is there in the Constitution, folks will have the right to bear arms," Julián said. "At the same time, like every other freedom, there are reasonable limits, regulations to be placed on it."

"I think it is imperative that the next Congress act on this issue," Joaquín said.

Joaquín, like his brother, said that any debate on gun legislation needs to respect hunters and those who use guns responsibly, but added that, "The debate has been so skewed toward a bit of paranoia over the last several years that it's been tough to have an honest debate about it."

He recalled driving across the Texas countryside and seeing an isolated house in the distance.

"I thought, at the time, 'If you don't have a gun in that house to protect yourself, you know, you've got to be crazy, because if you call the police, they're not going to get there for 30, 40 minutes,'" he said.

"You've got to be able to protect yourself if something happens," Joaquín added, but cautioned that "'Stand Your Ground' laws have gone too far."

"I do think we can be more nuanced about what types of guns [we allow] and also making sure we close that loophole on gun shows," Julián said, referring to a law that allows people to forego background checks and other restrictions when they purchase guns from a "private seller" instead of from a licensed firearm dealer.

"There are responsible gun owners and they use guns responsibly," he said. "They're separate and apart from the issues we have here."

Julián added that the nation needs to do a better job of identifying people with mental illnesses that might lead to violence, and preventing such people from accessing guns.

"It has become a kind of third rail issue in American politics," Joaquín said, "and it shouldn't be."

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