As president, Bill Clinton signed an assault weapons ban in 1994, which banned the sale of the machines for a decade — but it expired in 2004. And on Thursday, TIME published an op-ed authored by Clinton calling for lawmakers to reinstate that ban.
Clinton noted that in both the El Paso and Dayton shootings, “the gunmen used military-style assault weapons that were purchased legally.”
After describing the weapons used in the recent shootings, Clinton wrote, “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 went went on to blame the gun lobby, in part, for the current conversation around assault weapons, arguing, “For too long, the gun lobby and their elected allies have stalled, deflected and changed the conversation until the pressure abates and they can get back to business, heedless of the killings inevitably yet to come.”
Clinton noted that though the Democrats lost seats after the 1994 assault weapons ban was signed into law, the country is a different place in 2019 and suggested: “today members of Congress will be supported if they reinstate the assault-weapons and large-ammunition magazine bans.”
He closed by writing, “We can take a big step toward that world by keeping assault weapons out of the hands of those who wish to destroy it.”
There are plenty of studies showing that mass shootings declined under the 1994 Assault Weapons, including a comprehensive study published last January.
A recent poll from Politico and Morning Consult found that most Republicans support an assault weapons ban. However, President Donald Trump has shied away from the possibility of signing such a law and recently declared that there is “no political appetite” for the measure.