Twenty years after the since-expired assault weapons ban passed Congress, Washington’s leading liberal think says it’s no longer an idea worth pursuing.
The Center for American Progress is waving a white flag on banning assault weapons in a study out Friday titled “Assault Weapons Revisited.” CAP authors Arkadi Gerney and Chelsea Parsons argue that gun control advocates focus their energies primarily on expanding background checks and firearms licensing laws instead of pushing to prohibit assault weapons like the AR-15 rifle.
“The answer is not that assault weapons aren’t dangerous and people having access to them is a good thing,” Mr. Gerney said in an interview this week. “There are other things that we can do to lessen the risks of assault weapons short of banning them. … When you’re making policy, it’s always a mix of what’s going to have a biggest positive impact and what is practical and politically possible.”
Banning assault weapons, which Congress did for a decade as part of the 1994 crime bill, was a centerpiece of the policy prescriptions President Barack Obama sought in the wake of the December 2012 school massacre at Newtown, Conn. Mr. Obama also sought to implement universal background checks for gun purchases, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and restrict on gun trafficking. Only background checks received a serious hearing in Congress – only 40 senators voted for an assault weapons ban. Background checks fell five votes short.
The 1994 assault weapons ban expired in 2004 when Congress did not reauthorize it. Mr. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, when they addressed the issue, spoke passionately about the need to ban the sort of weapon used during the Newtown shooting.