Before this year, the last bit of federal gun control passed was the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban, passed under then-President Bill Clinton.
As a result of that passage, at least in part, the midterm elections that followed were a proverbial bloodbath for Democrats. They lost control of the House–for the first time since 1950, it should be noted–and Senate and it was a slog for the president to get anything passed.
And that was well before today’s hyperpartisanship.
Despite that, Clinton is once again trying to push for gun control.
Former President Clinton called on Congress to take further action on gun violence on Wednesday, particularly pushing for the revival of a federal assault weapons ban.
“We must act now,” Clinton says in a video with the media company ATTN:. “Enough is enough.”
Clinton emphasizes the effectiveness and broad bipartisan support of the federal assault weapons ban that he signed into law in 1994 and that Congress allowed to expire in 2004. The law received support at the time from former Presidents Carter, Ford and Reagan.
“They called it a ‘matter of vital importance to the public safety,’” Clinton says in the video. “They were right then, and they’re still right today.”
Except, the general consensus is that the 1994 law actually accomplished nothing. While many claimed the law reduced homicides, the murder rate was dropping before the law’s passage and continued dropping well after the law sunset.
So no, it wasn’t a “matter of vital importance to the public safety” because it didn’t have any impact on public safety.
Clinton says he’ll use any power he has to push for gun control, which is fine. He has the right to do it. Luckily, as a former president, he doesn’t actually have that power. He maybe could run for Senate or something and shape laws that way, but he can’t run for president again–he’s had his two terms–and it’s unlikely he’ll be able to be more than just one more voice in the wind.
But Clinton thinks he’s different.
The former Arkansas governor also taps into his Southern roots in an effort to assuage gun owners’ fears that they will lose their Second Amendment rights.
He argues he grew up in the gun culture, so he knows how to talk to those of us down here who value the Second Amendment.
Um…I hate to break it to him, but any gravitas he thinks he has with southern gun owners is infinitely more than he actually has. Too many of us remember him pushing for an assault weapon ban, pretending to be all high and mighty as he cheated on his wife in the Oval Office with an intern.
That doesn’t play well in the Deep South. Nor does someone who moved up north after milking what he could out of his southern roots.
Clinton is little more than a private citizen, and while he has the right to espouse literally any policy he wants as a private citizen, we don’t have to listen.
I suspect few others will bother to do so, either.