Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Emanuel Defends His Call For Assault Weapons Ban

But as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, Emanuel eagerly recruited pro-gun Democrats to run in rural districts

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Emanuel Defends His Call For Assault Weapons Ban

Mayor Rahm Emanuel called for a change in current gun laws during an event on Saturday in the wake of the deadly shooting at Sandy Hooks Elementary.

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel appeared on CBS "This Morning" Tuesday to talk about reinstating the assault weapons ban he helped pass when he worked in the Clinton White House in 1994. However, Emanuel first had to answer some tough questions about why he opposed restoring the ban while he was White House chief of staff.

According to the book Kill or Capture: The War on Terror and the Soul of the Obama Presidency, by Daniel Klaidman, Emanuel was furious when Attorney General Eric Holder suggested in 2009 that President Barack Obama backed a ban on assault weapons, which many believe cost the Democrats control of Congress in 1994. Emanuel reportedly told Holder that he needed to “shut up.”

As chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, Emanuel eagerly recruited pro-gun Democrats to run in rural districts, part of the strategy that allowed the party to win a House majority that year. The Washington Post reported that both Emanuel and his successor, Bill Daley, opposed new gun regulations. Their voices were so effective that the anti-gun Brady Campaign gave Obama an F during his first year in office.

Now that he’s running the most murderous city in America, rather than trying to maintain a congressional majority, Emanuel sees things differently. He joins New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as one of the strongest voices in favor of gun control in the wake of the murder of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Conn., last week.

“It’s changed everybody’s attitude,” Emanuel said. “You can’t take event like this and say, ‘The status quo stays in place.’”

The mayor on Tuesday called for renewal of the assault weapons ban, a ban on high ammunition clips and action against straw purchasers, “which is how guns flood into urban areas. Almost 40 to 50 percent of guns are done through straw purchases.”

Emanuel specifically called for banning the Bushmaster .223 rifle, the weapon used in the Connecticut murders.

“It has to be about the criminal access to the type of gun which is the one you’d showed earlier. That gun is not for the streets, it’s not for sport. It’s for war.”

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