AP Photo/Michael Conroy
The Assault Weapon Ban of 1994 may well have been one of the most useless pieces of legislation in the history of the United States. History has shown that it actually accomplished nothing, yet anti-gun lawmakers have continually pushed for a new version every few years. Time and time again, they come forward with a new version, only to get smacked down.
Well, today is very different from those days.
Today, there’s a feeling on Capitol Hill that the public is clamoring for new gun control regulations, and it seems legions of Democrats are signing onto the latest incarnation. How many? Well…almost all of them.
An assault weapons ban is picking up steam in the House and on the 2020 campaign trail as Democrats search for a way to respond to two recent mass shootings while putting greater political pressure on recalcitrant Republican leaders.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the front-runner in the Democratic presidential primary race, this week vowed to reinstate and strengthen the 1994 ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines if he’s elected president, declaring in a New York Times op-ed: “We have to get these weapons of war off our streets.”
And nearly 200 House Democrats have now signed on to legislation — authored by Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), the head of Democrats’ messaging operation — banning semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity magazines. With 198 co-sponsors, the bill is just 20 votes shy of the number needed to push it through the lower chamber.
Five Democrats added their names to Cicilline’s Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 in the immediate aftermath of the back-to-back massacres in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left a combined 32 dead and dozens more injured. Two more got on board on Tuesday: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the brother of Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro, and Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Iowa), who unseated GOP Rep. David Young last fall.
“Meaningful action doesn’t end with signing a bipartisan background checks bill, which is important,” Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.), a co-sponsor of the Cicilline bill, told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday. “We have to ban high-capacity magazines that allowed the Dayton shooter and so many others to fire off tens of rounds in merely seconds. We have to ban assault weapons to get these weapons of war off our streets.”
There are 235 Democrats in the House.
Of course, a bill like this passing the House won’t be surprising. While The Hill‘s writer didn’t bother to give us precisely which bill they’re talking about, it appears to be HR 1696. However, contrary to what The Hill argues, it doesn’t expressly ban any semiautomatic weapon. It does, unfortunately, play the “evil feature” game from the 1994 bill. There is a key difference. With HR 1696, it only takes one evil feature, in conjunction with being able to accept a detachable magazine. Also, some specific AR-15 models are expressly named.
Like the 1994 bill, though, there is a grandfather clause.
However, the Senate assault weapon ban bill has 30 co-sponsors, almost a third of that chamber. The only saving grace is that that isn’t a large enough number to force a vote on the bill.
What it means, though, is that it’s vital to rally to defeat Democrats in 2020. While there are some pro-gun Democrats out there, it doesn’t seem that any are running for office and, frankly, our rights can’t afford for us to screw around. Otherwise, we will see gun control passed.