WASHINGTON -- With gun control at the forefront of the national debate after last month's mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., Colin Powell weighed in on the subject and expressed support for a possible ban on assault weapons.
The former secretary of state called the right to bear arms a "very complex issue" and said he was anxiously awaiting Vice President Joe Biden's formal recommendations to curb gun violence, which are anticipated on Tuesday.
"You have deranged people throughout the country, unfortunately, and they are part of the problem," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. "You have to be deranged to pick up a Bushmaster or some weapon and go into a school and kill people. How do we deal with that part of the problem? That has to be looked at with respect to guns themselves."
Powell added that he is a gun owner and reaffirmed his belief in the Second Amendment, but noted that the "responsibility under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights to protect our people" should be reason enough to "find some meeting of the minds" on the issue. Powell suggested implementing more comprehensive background checks, which is reportedly a top priority among Biden's pending proposals.
Although he didn't explicitly call for the reinstatement of an assault weapons ban, Powell questioned whether individuals should be able to purchase the high capacity magazines that have been used in most mass shootings.
"Whether or not it's in our overall interest to have these kinds of weapons in the hands of Americans who might not be responsible is a question we have to answer," Powell said. "How much are we really giving up if we said this kind of weapon should not be readily available to anybody who wants to buy one? And so I think we are at a very important point in our national dialogue on this."
"The American people are concerned about the kinds of things that are happening in our society," he continued. "Surely, we can't get the whole ball of wax, [but] I hope that there will be a way to find something in this continuum of things we can do [so] that we are able to do to demonstrate to the American people that this problem is being taken seriously."
Earlier in the day, National Rifle Association President David Keene signaled that efforts to ban assault weapons or limit high capacity magazines would be a non-starter with his organization and predicted they would not pass Congress.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) made a similar point on CBS's "Face the Nation," pointing instead to the need to address mental health. He appeared alongside Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and the senators announced that together they plan to introduce a bill that would create a commission on mass violence.
"You bring experts from all different fields. You bring people such as myself that are NRA members that have been sportsmen all of our lives, and look for a commonsense approach to how we change the culture of violence in America," Manchin said. "And that's what needs to be done."