David Corn: What the Fight Over Clinton's 1994 Assault Weapons Ban Can Teach Obama

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Image from a quicklink In 1995 President Clinton released a campaign ad in which the narrator declared, "Bill Clinton did something no president has ever been able to accomplish: He passed and signed a tough law to ban deadly assault weapons." Then Clinton appeared and boasted he had taken "deadly assault weapons off our streets." He was referring to the assault weapons ban he had achieved as part of a massive anti-crime bill enacted the previous year. Clinton had scored a headline-making political victory, overcoming the fierce opposition of the formidable National Rifle Association. But he had racked up only a partial victory, for the ban was riddled with loopholes and did little to curtail the availability of semiautomatic weapons. Two decades later, as President Obama initiates an effort to enact effective gun control measures in the wake of the Newtown massacre, the 1994 fight holds plenty of lessons.

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