Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Joe Biden Wrote the Assault Weapons Ban?

When Joe Biden insulted the Michigan gun owner who asked his view on gun control, he claimed that he 'originally wrote the assault weapons ban:'

A search of the Congressional online database Thomas shows that there were 18 bills introduced in the 101st Congress (1989-1990) on 'assault weapons.' The first assault weapons ban introduced appears to be HR 669 by Howard Berman, which was introduced in January, 1989 -- right at the start of the Congress.

I don't see any legislation introduced by Senator Biden prior to that. Biden did introduce S. 1972 -- the 'Federal Crime Control Act' -- in November, 1989, and it does include an assault weapons ban. That legislation was not enacted into law. He again introduced an assault weapons ban in the next Congress, which was also not enacted into law.

Over this time period, many other lawmakers also introduced their own versions of legislation to ban assault weapons. A search for 'assault weapon' shows measures introduced by Bob Torricelli, Pete Stark, Sam Gibbons, and many other prominent Democrats. I don't see any legislation mentioning 'assault weapons' in the 100th Congress or earlier.

Many people associate the assault weapons ban with Dianne Feinstein, so Biden can be forgiven for pointing out that he introduced legislation before she did. However, Biden is wrong to claim credit for being the first.

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Admiral Tact said...

In fairness, his claim is most honestly read as saying the language of the assault weapons ban that actually passed ("the assault weapons ban that became law" [emphasis mine]) was originally written by him. Given that, it is incorrect to say he is claiming credit for being first -- he is only claiming that the passed ban used language that had as its origin his own language (also a dubius claim given the history, but one that is a lot harder to prove wrong)

Philo-Junius said...

I have to check with Neil Kinnock before I can verify any of this.