(NEW YORK) -- The cover of Wednesday's New York Daily News has this headline: “No civilian should own this gun.”
That's according to Rep. Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts' 6th district, who appeared on the cover in his Marine uniform and holding an assault rifle.
Moulton, who assumed office in 2015, is a former Marine Corps officer who served four tours in Iraq. He said his military experience gives him a unique vantage point on issues of national security and the nation’s veterans.
“Civilians have no reason for owning assault weapons”
In his passionate Daily News op-ed, Moulton bemoaned Congress’ response to mass shootings and criticized the lack of “political courage” to enact change.
“The victims’ families don’t want our thoughts and prayers,” he wrote. “They want our action, preferably before their loved ones are needlessly massacred.”
He defended his stance on an assault weapons ban, arguing the AR-15 gun used in the Orlando shooting was designed for the military, not the average American.
“But there’s a big difference between a U.S. Marine with a rifle and a civilian with a gun,” he said. “I trained for years in order to use my weapon properly. And long before I ever aimed it at an individual, I had to look at pictures of dead and mangled bodies in order to understand the magnitude of what it meant to pull that trigger.”
In a statement to ABC News, Moulton said "my younger brother is gay. If the attack had taken place in Worcester, he could have been a victim. One of my staff members is gay. If the attack had taken place in Washington, he and his partner could have been victims. Any of us could be a victim -- at a school, at a movie theater, even at a church."
He called on Congress to eliminate the sale of military-style assault weapons to civilians as well as requiring background checks for gun purchases.
“Congress can prevent people on terrorism watch lists from buying guns,” he wrote in the op-ed. “And Congress can lift the restrictions on the study of the causes of gun violence, so that we can at the very least better understand why this keeps happening.”
Moulton making news
This isn't the first time the congressman has been in the national spotlight.
In February, Dennis Magnasco, Moulton's district representative and veteran’s liaison, made news with a video highlighting the difficulty in securing a VA hospital appointment.
Magnasco, an Army veteran, filmed himself in a nearly five-minute phone call to his local VA hospital in Bedford, Massachusetts. What he heard on the other end was a maddening stream of automated audio messages.
The video went viral after it was posted by Moulton on his Facebook page. Moulton had introduced the Faster Care for Veterans Act with Congressman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Washington) one month prior to the video.
The bill is designed to improve the way veterans access health care by introducing self-scheduling technology that could be used on a smartphone or computer.
In January, Moulton brought Ahmad Alkhalaf, a 9-year-old Syrian boy who lost both of his arms after an airstrike struck his refugee camp, as his State of the Union guest.
Ahmad and his father had relocated to the Boston area for medical care, leaving his mother and four siblings in Turkey.
The young boy then wrote to President Obama to draw attention to the plight of the Syrian people. Moulton took notice and invited Ahmad to Washington, D.C., as his guest.
Four tours of duty
Moulton joined the Marine Corps in 2001 after graduation despite disagreeing with the Iraq War.
Moulton lead an infantry platoon during the 2003 invasion and was in the first Marine company to enter Baghdad, according to his website. He completed four tours to Iraq in five years.
Following his last tour, Moulton earned a master's degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He worked for the Texas Central Railway before entering politics.
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