Bill Clinton Calls On Congress To Reinstate Assault Weapon Ban

Clinton's opinion piece on his 1994 ban comes on the heels of three mass shootings across the U.S.

In an op-ed for Time published Thursday, former President Bill Clinton urged Congress to reinstate the assault weapon ban he signed when he was in office. 

Clinton’s message comes on the heels of a wave of mass shootings in California, Texas and Ohio, which reignited demands for lawmakers to pass meaningful gun control legislation ― something it hasn’t done in two decades despite mass deaths at schools, festivals, concerts, nightclubs and beyond. 

“Elected officials speak about the need for change,” Clinton wrote. “But the tragedies do keep happening, while the one thing that we know can reduce the number and the death tolls of mass shootings has not been done: reinstituting the ban on assault weapons and the limit on high-capacity magazines that was in effect from 1994 to 2004.”

The decade-long ban expired when George W. Bush was president. 

“I worked hard to pass and was proud to sign the ban on these weapons of war into law, and the results were clear: mass shooting fatalities declined while they were in effect and have risen sharply since they were allowed to lapse,” he wrote.

Studies have found conflicting evidence of the ban’s reach, with some finding a significant drop in mass shootings while it was in effect and some finding a much smaller dip. However, many supporters of instating another assault weapon ban ― including a number of the 2020 presidential candidates ― say they want to close loopholes from the Clinton-era law.

Clinton also emphasized in his op-ed that he doesn’t want recreational gun users, such as hunters, to buy into fear-mongering about how such a ban would affect them.

“It pains me to see people in the culture I grew up in buy into the argument that banning weapons of war threatens the Second Amendment and their way of life,” he continued. “As the 1994 assault-weapons ban shows, deaths from mass shootings fell while the number of hunting licenses actually increased. No one has to give up their culture to save the lives of innocent people, so many of them very young.”

Though President Donald Trump said Wednesday that there’s “no political appetite” for such restrictions to be back in place, a Politico/Morning Consult poll found that same day that nearly 70% of all voters would back such a ban, including a majority of Republican voters. 

You can read Clinton’s entire op-ed here.