Carl Hulse, writing in last Sunday’s New York Times, discusses firearm legislation. His account starts in 1994 when the subject arose. About the 1994 assault weapons ban, Hulse writes:
With Congress prepared to again clash over gun safety, in the aftermath of a murderous August, the circuitous route to passage taken by the assault weapons ban 25 years ago illustrates just how perfectly the legislative stars must align for contentious gun measures to become law. It also shows what such an effort entails — true bipartisanship, a committed White House, a readiness on all sides to compromise and a willingness by some lawmakers to take a significant political risk.
Indeed there was political risk. Hulse continues:
The consequences of the vote were so severe — Democrats lost the House after four decades of control, with the assault weapons ban ranking high among the reasons — that Congress has been unable to advance major gun safety legislation since.
Hulse quotes Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, who backed the crime bill.
I know people on the Second Amendment side go nuts when you say this, but what is the purpose of an assault weapon? I was surprised by the reaction.
Despite a summer of mass shootings, it will be difficult for Congress and the White House to come together on major gun restrictions as they did for that moment in 1994.
Still, with most Americans in favor of reform, effective legislation must pass sooner or later. How many more must die first is an open question.