During intense negotiations in 1994 about the large crime package and an attached assault-weapons ban, then-Senator Joe Biden of Delaware met with congressional staffers and asked if the ban could be weakened or dropped. Biden, then chairman of the powerful Senate judiciary committee, worried that attaching the ban -- which included AR-15 rifles -- might threaten passage of the larger crime package that Democratic leaders wanted ahead of midterm elections. As described in American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15, a staffer told Biden that weakening the ban would make it meaningless. According to the staffer, Biden looked up at the people in the room, paused, and said, "Well, then, fuck 'em."
With Biden's backing, the ban as drafted stayed in the package and the entire package passed. What that meant for the AR-15 and for America in the decades that followed is detailed in the new book, American Gun.