Gun control wasn’t a big topic of discussion during Thursday night’s CNN town hall with Joe Biden, but when it did come up, it was the president himself who broached the subject. Biden spoke about his gun ban in response to a question from moderator Anderson Cooper. No, not the gun ban he’s trying to impose on tens of millions of American gun owners, but the ten-year ban on so-called assault weapons that Biden was able to ram through as part of his 1994 crime bill.
President Biden on Thursday said negotiating the assault weapons ban of 1994 was more difficult than current deliberations for the bipartisan infrastructure bill and reconciliation package, as the White House and Capitol Hill near the end of months-long negotiations for key parts of his legislative agenda.
Biden, when asked by Anderson Cooper during a CNN town hall if his Build Back Better agenda is the toughest deal he has ever worked on, responded no, pointing to the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.
“I think banning assault weapons is the toughest deal I worked on. And succeeded,” Biden told Cooper.
He did, not that it did any good. The guns that Biden targeted weren’t used in a lot of crimes before they were banned, weren’t used in lot of crimes while the ban was in effect, and haven’t been used in a lot of crimes after Biden’s gun ban expired in 2004.
What exactly did Biden’s “toughest deal” actually accomplish? Other than helping Republicans capture both the House and the Senate for the first time since 1952, I mean. For some reason, Biden didn’t mention to Anderson Cooper the fact that less than two months after Bill Clinton signed the Biden crime bill and gun ban, Republicans picked up eight Senate seats and 54 House districts in the 1994 midterms.
Biden himself has even said that the 1994 crime bill that included the ban on so-called assault weapons was a mistake, though he stood by his decision to include the wildly unpopular ban in the legislation.
Mr. Biden said supporting the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was a mistake but that the bill came from good intentions.
“Things have changed drastically. That crime bill when we voted, the Black Caucus voted for it, every black mayor supported it across the board,” he said. Mr. Biden said the bill ended up including things that turned out to be “both bad and good.”
“The mistake came in terms of what the states did locally,” he said later.
I think the biggest mistake was imposing a ban on the sale of modern sporting rifles and “large capacity” magazines, which did nothing to prevent violent crime but did enrage the 2A community, which turned out in massive numbers and sent dozens of Democrats packing when they headed to the polls in November of 1994.
Now I’m not sure that Joe Biden even remembers what he had for breakfast this morning, so it’s entirely possible that he’s forgotten the fact that his last gun ban was a political and public safety failure. But as Biden tries to cobble together enough votes for his multi-trillion dollar “Build Back Better” bill, both he and his Democratic allies in Congress should crack open a history book and give themselves a refresher course on what happened the last time Biden brokered what was supposed to be a good deal for Democrats.