Omar Mateen used an AR-15 that he purchased legally when he killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub over the weekend. Credit: AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, file

The United States once had a ban on the kind of semiautomatic rifle that was used in the Orlando massacre. The assault weapons ban was instituted in 1994, with a ten-year life span, and—thanks to the efforts of the National Rifle Association and the (mostly Republican) politicians in its pocket—was allowed to expire in 2004.

In April 2013, California senator Diane Feinstein introduced a proposal that would have brought back a national assault weapon ban. It was defeated by a vote of 60 to 40 that saw 15 Democrats joining with Republicans to squelch it. Both Illinois senators—Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk—voted in favor of the ban. 

Notably, Kirk was the only Republican to support it. 

As recently as December 2015, Rhode Island congressman David Cicilline introduced an assault weapons ban (HR 4269) that was cosponsored by Illinois representatives Danny Davis, Tammy Duckworth, Luis Gutierrez, Robin Kelly, Mike Quigley, and Jan Schakowsky. It was referred to a committee, and no further action was taken.

The National Rifle Association has in the past given A ratings for their exemplary support of “gun rights” to the following members of Congress from Illinois: Mike Bost, Rodney L. Davis, Randy Hultgren, Adam Kinzinger, Darrin LaHood, Peter Roskam, and John Shimkus, all Republicans.

As it happens, the NRA also gave Florida governor Rick Scott an A+.