President Obama's proposed renewal of a ban on assault-style weapons is expected to be based on the legislation approved by Congress in 1994 that expired 10 years later.
But when the first assault weapons ban was approved — outlawing 19 specific weapons — it was a very different time, and Congress was a very different place.
"The gun control issue was the top issue that had stirred up a lot of controversy at that point," he says.
Lawmakers argued over how to define the ban, and which specific weapons and features it would apply to. They eventually settled on a list of 19 guns and agreed to sunset the law entirely in 10 years. Those concessions were necessary to win support for the ban.
Perhaps the biggest difference between then and now: In 1994, there were House Republicans who backed the crime bill.
"There were a group of Republicans, approximately 40 or so, who represented more moderate districts, districts in the North, Midwest, where they weren't in complete opposition to an assault weapon ban," McNulty says.
In fact, 46 House Republicans voted for the 1994 assault weapons ban — a total that's unimaginable now.
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