America’s Failed Attempt to Ban Assault Weapons

As the U.S. begins to make progress against Covid-19, a different tragedy has returned to the headlines: mass shootings. On March 16, a gunman killed eight people at spas and massage parlors in the Atlanta area. Days later, another gunman killed 10 at a supermarket in Boulder, Colo. With the tragedies have come renewed calls from Democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden, to authorize a new federal ban on assault weapons. “We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again,” Mr. Biden said the day after the Boulder shooting. “I got that done when I was a senator. It passed. It was law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again.” But the history of the federal assault-weapons ban, passed in 1994 after an epic political battle on Capitol Hill, offers a cautionary tale about the difficulty of constructing an effective and politically acceptable ban. Mr. Biden, then the powerful chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was a key supporter of the ban as part of a major anticrime bill pushed by President Bill Clinton. When Mr. Clinton signed the law in September 1994, he touted it as a major victory over the National Rifle Association, declaring, “We will finally ban these assault weapons from our streets that have no purpose other than to kill.” Yet the Democratic Party paid a political price, losing its House majority in that fall’s elections for the first time in four […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.