WASHINGTON — Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the next Secretary of Defense, doesn’t see eye-to-eye on at least one of his would-be boss’s priorities for the coming year: passing a new Assault Weapons Ban.
As a candidate for Senate in 1995, Hagel supported the ban which passed Congress in 1994 before backtracking on his statement, according to local news reports.
In May 1994, Hagel told one Nebraska television station, “I probably would have voted for it,” the Omaha World-Herald reported later that year, adding that he had not read the bill. The reporter asked if “In general then, you could see yourself favoring a ban on assault weapons,” to which Hagel replied, “yes.”
But Hagel told the same paper in October 1995 that he should have read the bill first, “‘It’s a bad bill,’ Hagel said. If he were in the Senate, Hagel said he would vote to repeal the ban,” the paper reported.
In 2004 when the Assault Weapons Ban was expiring, Hagel opposed efforts to reinstate it, telling the same paper, “Banning weapons or increasing regulation of certain firearms will not keep criminals from misusing or acquiring guns. It will, however, infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
The 1994 bill was seen by gun control advocates as not nearly expansive enough, and the new measure supported by Obama and put forward by Sen. Diane Feinstein after the Newtown school shooting is far more sweeping.