Jack Brooks Dies; Ousted After Backing Crime Bill With Assault Weapon Ban


Longtime former Congressman Jack Brooks of Texas, who with then-Sen. Joseph Biden led the conference committee that produced the massive 1994 federal anticrime law, has died at 89. Brooks, a National Rifle Association supporter who opposed the assault weapon ban that was part of the bill, was defeated after he supported the overall measure with the assault weapon ban in it. Brooks’ defeat at the hands of the NRA and other opponents was part of a Republican takeover of Congress that year that was partly due to the crime legislation. Brooks was defeated by Steve Stockman, who served only one term in the 1990s but is returning to Congress next year.

Former President Bill Clinton, in a 2004 memoir, recalled Brooks telling him that if the assault weapons ban was not dropped, “the NRA would beat a lot of Democrats by terrifying gun owners. [ ] On November 8, we got the living daylights beat out of us, losing eight Senate races and fifty-four House seats, the largest defeat for our party since 1946. [ ] The NRA had a great night. They beat both Speaker Tom Foley and Jack Brooks, two of the ablest members of Congress, who had warned me this would happen.”

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