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Connecticut governor: Definition of assault weapons ‘was lobbied to death’

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In a discussion of how Vice President Joe Biden has taken a lead role in the push for gun control, Chris Hayes reminded viewers that the former senator spearheaded the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which included the now-expired assault weapons ban.

Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-CT) said that under the 1994 law, very large magazines were not legal, although it was “too broad” when it came to the definition of an assault weapon.

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Speaking to the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Thursday, Biden said, “High capacity magazines don’t have a practical sporting purpose or hunting purpose. As one hunter told me, if you’ve got twelve rounds, if you’ve got twelve rounds, it means you’ve already missed the deer eleven times. You should pack the sucker in at that point.”

In 1994, Hayes said, many debated how to define assault weapons, “and I think, in retrospect, there was a lot about that that was quite porous, right?”

Mallow said that “people, interests, have worked on a definition that is wide enough to drive a truck through. And so, you know, it has to look like this and have one or two or three or four similarities with a military instrument. It’s really what most states have gone to that have even tried to do it on their own. And it’s just too wide, too broad.”

“The definition was lobbied to death,” he said later.

Hayes said of the AR-15, which was used in Newtown, “versions of that did exist in the assault weapon ban and other versions didn’t. It was sort of modified to fit in under.”

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Neera Tanden, president of the progressive Center for American Progress, said that studies have shown that “when we had the assault weapons ban, the number of guns that were recovered from criminals that had assault weapon features were declining. It took a little while because it grandfathered a lot of ammunitions in, but it actually was effective.”

Malloy said he recently spoke with an older Texas mayor who said that when he was growing up, his family had a gun that held five shots — but two of those had to be sealed because of tougher gun laws.

Jen Psaki, former White House deputy communications director, said one of the major Republican arguments against an assault weapons ban is the difficulty in defining what an assault weapon is, an argument that she said some people can “fall prey to.” People who “want this to happen need to, you know, watch out for that.”

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There has been much debate regarding whether the ban was effective. A 2004 study conducted by the Department of Justice was inconclusive: “Because the ban has not yet reduced the use of LCMs [large capacity magazines] in crime, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. However, the ban’s exemption of millions of pre-ban AWs and LCMs ensured that the effects of the law would occur only gradually. Those effects are still unfolding and may not be fully felt for several years into the future, particularly if foreign, pre-ban LCMs continue to be imported into the U.S. in large numbers,” it read.

Sam Wang, a professor at Princeton University, analyzed deaths from mass shootings and found that deaths from such events almost tripled after the ban expired, while the number of shooting incidents almost doubled. However, the number of such gun deaths before the ban were did not differ substantially. Mass killings, he wrote, “are always with us, but advanced weaponry creates an efficiency of scale to allow the possibility of large killings.”

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Michael Bloomberg ‘lost everything’ in Las Vegas: MSNBC analyst

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Senior editor for "The Root," Jason Johnson, concluded that the biggest loser of the Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday was Michael Bloomberg, but not merely because of his debate performance.

"The big new name was going to be Michael Bloomberg," he said. "This was probably the most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. He lost everything. This guy has spent $320 million. He had the opportunity to stand on stage, and appear to be an equal, and he looked bored. He looked disenchanted. He stumbled over obvious questions that anybody would have anticipated about sexual harassment and stop and frisk. I thought it was a bad night for him."

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Pro-immigration protesters interrupt Joe Biden’s closing statement at debate

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Former Vice President Joe Biden's closing statement was interrupted by protesters at Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate.

As Biden began his remarks, demonstrators began shouting about the Obama administration's record on deportations.

WATCH: Protesters interrupt the #DemDebate as the debate nears end. pic.twitter.com/TKCn6eIEsN

— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 20, 2020

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Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden eviscerate Bloomberg on his nondisclosure agreements with women over harassment

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Women who have worked for Michael Bloomberg's companies have had nondisclosure agreements that bar then from discussing the complaints they had against either Bloomberg himself or male employees of his companies. During the debate, the former New York City mayor was hammered for refusing to allow those women out of the NDAs.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren blasted him first, demanding to know the number of women that signed NDAs and how many of them have been released. Bloomberg dodged the inquiry, but Warren refused to let him escape.

"How many is that?" she asked.

"Let me finish," he snapped.

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