The National Rifle Association (NRA) swiftly countered Vice President Kamala Harris’s assertion that President Biden will implement a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”
“[Joe Biden] has taken on the [NRA] and won. He can do it again,” Harris X’d Tuesday evening, accompanied by a campaign ad lauding Biden’s resolve to “ban assault weapons.”
“Vice President Harris should learn her history before going on social media. She’s referring to Biden’s 1994 vote for the ‘assault weapons’ ban as his big so-called victory,” NRA spokesman Billy McLaughlin retorted in remarks to Fox News. “Yet, thanks to the NRA, the ban expired in 2004. And, AR-15 ownership surged from 850,000 then to 25 million today.”
Biden, during his tenure as a Delaware senator, cast his vote in favor of banning semiautomatic firearms in 1994, a decision that was part of that year’s widely popular but subsequently controversial crime bill. This bill, championed by a Democratic-majority House, later merged into a comprehensive anti-crime package, necessitating certain exceptions for its passage, including a sunset provision. Congress approved this bill, and former President Bill Clinton signed it into law in September of the same year. This legislation imposed a decade-long prohibition on the production, transfer or possession of “semiautomatic assault weapons” and “large capacity ammunition feeding devices.”
Following this legislative action, Democrats faced significant setbacks in the subsequent election cycle, relinquishing control of both congressional chambers to the Republicans. At the time, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (with her cognitive faculties fully intact) admitted her underestimation of “the power of the NRA in [Washington, D.C.].” This law reached its expiration in 2004, during George W. Bush’s presidency, with Republicans holding sway in both congressional chambers.
“Even President Clinton’s DOJ conceded the ban was ineffective,” McLaughlin said in his statement. Two Department of Justice studies, one from 1999 and another from 2004, revealed that the ban had minimal impact on gun violence. The 1999 study highlighted the ban’s inability to decrease the average number of victims per gun murder incident or the number of multiple gunshot wound victims.
Despite these findings, Democrats, Biden included, persistently advocate for the bill, asserting its efficacy in reducing mass shootings.
“We can ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines in this country once again. I got that done when I was a senator. It passed. It was the law for the longest time. And it brought down these mass killings. We should do it again,” Biden declared in 2021, responding to a tragic grocery store shooting in Boulder, Colorado.
The NRA, however, emphasizes the popularity of the AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle often labeled as an “assault weapon” by liberals. They describe it as “America’s top self-defense rifle.” McLaughlin further illustrated the rifle’s significance by referencing a 2019 incident where an eight-month pregnant Florida mother used her AR-15 to protect her family from two armed assailants who had violently attacked her husband.
The White House, when asked by Fox News journalists about the NRA’s statement, redirected the journalists to the Biden campaign team for comments.
“Time and time again, the gun lobby has chosen profits over human lives. The NRA doubling down on their deeply unpopular and dangerous support for weapons of war in our communities is a choice — and it’s a losing choice,” Biden campaign spokesman Kevin Munoz told Fox News on Thursday.
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