Politico Reminisces About Assault Weapon Ban

It seems yesterday was something of a historic day, at least according to Politico.

You didn’t know? Oh yeah. You see, it was the anniversary of President Bill Clinton signing the Assault Weapon Ban of 1994, and the political website wants you to know that it happened.


After three prior presidents lobbied Congress for passage of an assault weapons ban, President Bill Clinton on this day in 1994 signed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act into law over the vociferous opposition of the National Rifle Association. Earlier on this day, the Senate voted 52 to 48 in favor of its passage, clearing the way for Clinton’s signature.

On May 3, 1994, Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan co-authored a letter to the House supporting the ban as a “matter of vital importance to the public safety.” Reagan followed up with letters to individual Republican lawmakers seeking their backing. Two days later, the House approved the bill, 216 to 214.

As enacted into law, the legislation prohibited the manufacture for civilian use of semi-automatic firearms and large-capacity ammunition magazines. It applied solely to weapons to be made after Clinton signed the bill and featured a 10-year “sunset” provision. It was not renewed when Congress allowed the law to expire on Sept. 13, 2004.

After Congress had initially acted, the federal courts turned back multiple challenges to the law raised by opponents on various grounds. The ban, however, was never directly challenged under the Constitution’s Second Amendment. Since its expiration, speculation has arisen on how a new legislative ban might fare in light of firearms cases decided by the Supreme Court in subsequent years, particularly its 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller.

Since the ban expired, numerous legislative efforts to renew or replace it have failed.


Politico fails to note that part of the reason those attempts to renew it failed was that the legislation itself failed. While proponents argued that the ban worked, noting a decrease in violent crime during the period of the ban, those arguments were unconvincing to many because it was nothing but a continuation of a trend that pre-dated the assault weapon ban.

A trend that continued well after the ban sunset, as a matter of fact.

However, it’s interesting that Politico decided to call attention to the date. It’s interesting because I can’t recall any other time when the site has celebrated a law that sunset after having accomplished nothing at all. It’s almost like Politico’s biased in favor of such a law returning or something.

Nah. Surely a site like Politico wouldn’t do that, now would it?

Alright, stop your laughing.

Seriously, though, the Assault Weapon Ban of 1994 wasn’t some great milestone. It was a prime example of the stupidity of gun laws. Not only did the law make a minimal impact on criminals, but it also made things more difficult for gun buyers in general. But at least it drew attention to the scourge of bayonet lugs!


The Assault Weapon Ban banned too many of certain features on guns, drove the price up on magazines that held more than ten rounds, and generally got annoying. That was it.

Hell, even if I thought gun laws actually worked, I’d still think this one was stupid. Imagine how dumb I think it is knowing they don’t.

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