Jan. 14, 2013
I voted for the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act or simply the “crime bill” in 1994, which contained the assault weapons ban as well as other related crime and firearms legislation. It was a sweeping reform bill including increases in police forces and critical funding for a number of important programs to help prevent and solve crime. I would not hesitate to vote for it again. But that vote was one very significant reason that I lost my congressional seat in that year’s election. Now, as the United States once again begins to question its gun regulations in the wake of a horrific tragedy of gun violence, I hope my story may offer instructive lessons on how to approach the issue.
During the months before the 1994 election, I authored and President Bill Clinton signed into law, legislation that provided product liability protection for small-airplane manufacturers. Thousands of my constituents worked in aviation and this legislation, hailed by the aircraft companies (Beech, Cessna, Learjet), saved thousands of jobs in my district and across Kansas. Soon after the law was signed, Cessna reopened its single-engine aircraft assembly line in Kansas. This was one of my biggest achievements as a member of Congress. The media had covered this bill quite a bit, and I felt like I would return to Kansas as a hero of the aviation industry and the working class.
Read the full op-ed here