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Rahm Emanuel On Assault Weapons Ban: Chicago Mayor Wants 'Vote Of Conscience' In Congress

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel testifies during the House Committee Hearing on Personnel and Pensions at the Illinois State Capitol Tuesday, May 8, 2012 in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel testifies during the House Committee Hearing on Personnel and Pensions at the Illinois State Capitol Tuesday, May 8, 2012 in Springfield, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Chicago Mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on Monday strongly expressed his support for a nationwide assault weapons ban following the horrific school shooting in Connecticut.

Speaking at a Chicago Police Department graduation ceremony, Emanuel urged Congress to re-enact the federal assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. He also called on the Illinois legislature to approve a similar law at the state level.

"It’s time in the city we have an assault weapons ban," Emanuel said Monday, according to the Sun-Times. "It’s time we as a state have an assault weapons ban. It’s time we as a country have an assault weapons ban, and I would hope that the leadership in Congress would now have a vote of conscience. It is time to have that vote.”

Emanuel further noted that he "stood by President Clinton's side" as Chief of Staff when the former president first signed an assault weapons ban in 1994, the Chicago Tribune reports. That law expired a decade later but Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has said she will re-introduce a ban on the first day of the new Congress, with a companion bill to be introduced in the House.

The city of Chicago already has a ban on assault weapons, the mayor noted, according to the Associated Press. While the city's increased homicide rate this year has attracted national headlines, the mayor on Monday said that overall crime in Chicago is down 8.45 percent -- the largest reduction in crime nationwide, according to Emanuel.

Emanuel previously, in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, called for stricter gun laws, but had not specifically called for blocking the sale of assault weapons.

The Chicago mayor's Monday statement comes on the heels of his criticizing a recent appeals court decision that struck down Illinois' ban on carrying concealed weapons. It was the nation's last such statewide ban on the books.

Recent efforts at the state level in Illinois and federal level to ban assault weapons have both failed to gain much traction, but a new poll conducted following the tragedy in Newtown, Conn. suggests a nationwide bump in support for stricter gun laws.

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