The ban on assault weapons that became law in 1994, during President Bill Clinton's first term, contributed to the Democrats' loss of Congress that year. It expired during George W. Bush's presidency in 2004.
The ban would have prevented the Colorado shooting suspect, James Holmes, from legally buying one of the four firearms police found on him and in his car, an assault rifle. It also would have prevented him from buying new high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Vizzard, the gun control scholar, said there are legislative ways to reduce gun violence, particularly over a longer term of 20 to 30 years. But with an estimated 300 million guns in the United States, he said, Obama is right that "the things that have the most impact are cultural" and that shape the behavior of young people.
Obama once got into his own firestorm during the 2008 presidential race by saying some bitter small-town residents cling to guns and religion for solace. This time, Vizzard said, the president will not give any material to critics who believe he is out to strip their gun rights.
"He's a cagey guy," Vizzard said. "He's just not going to do it."
Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn, Josh Lederman, Laurie Kellman and Alan Fram contributed to this story.
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