Bill Clinton urges lawmakers to reinstate ban on assault weapons

(Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Town & Country)

Former President Bill Clinton implored lawmakers to take swift action on legislation banning so-called assault weapons in an op-ed published in Time on Thursday, writing that Americans “have talked, tweeted and delayed long enough.”

Clinton’s appeal for gun control comes after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killed more than 30 people this past weekend, and as lawmakers argue over potential solutions to the country’s endemic gun violence.

Clinton urged lawmakers to reinstate the ban on assault weapons and the limit on high-capacity magazines that he signed into law as President in 1994. That legislation expired in 2004, and lawmakers have failed to reauthorize a comparable block on semi-automatic firearms since.

Clinton claimed the “results were clear” when he signed the ban on civilian use of some assault-style firearms. “Mass shooting fatalities declined while they were in effect and have risen sharply since they were allowed to lapse,” he wrote, though a recent Washington Post fact check on Clinton’s claim found that the ban’s effectiveness in preventing mass shootings was not quite as clear.

The former President slammed the gun lobby for “spreading paranoia” among responsible gun owners when legislation is on the table, and said gun advocates often link gun control to Democrats’ election losses to “scare lawmakers of both parties into maintaining the status quo.”

Clinton denounced the racism and white nationalism that fuels some mass murderers, writing that “we all have to stand against, not inflame, the racial, religious and gender-based bigotries that often drive the delusions of mass killers.”

While Clinton said preventive measures like “red flag” laws and mental health programs are a “good idea,” he urged lawmakers to focus on “the sheer number of guns per capita and the widespread accessibility of weapons of war.”

“Elected officials speak about the need for change. But the tragedies do keep happening, while the one thing that we know can reduce the number and the death tolls of mass shootings has not been done,” Clinton wrote.

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