The legislation banned companies from manufacturing 18 types of assault weapons for private use, and limited ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
The law did not require gun owners like Rockefeller to give up their guns or high-capacity magazines, however. It also allowed guns and magazines manufactured before the ban to be re-sold after it was enacted. That left 1.5 million assault weapons and 24 million high-capacity magazines in circulation, according to the Washington Post.
Congress allowed the ban to expire in 2004.
President Obama is now pursuing a reinstatement of that assault weapon ban, along with a ban on high-capacity magazines and certain kinds of ammunition. He also recommended closing loopholes in the background check system, providing money to help schools hire armed guards and improving the nation's mental health services.
Obama's proposed gun ban also would not require gun owners to turn over their weapons.
Rockefeller indicated last week he would support the president's proposals, saying Congress could protect West Virginia's traditions of hunting and gun ownership while still looking for ways to prevent violence.
"I support steps that build on these ideas, while making sure our hunters' and sportsmen's rights are protected," he said in the statement.
He was the only member of West Virginia's congressional delegation to express outright support for the president's agenda.
Obama's suggested gun ban was inspired in part by mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. and a movie theater in Aurora, Col. The killings, which were both carried out by lone gunmen armed with AR-15s, left a combined 42 people dead.
"Senator Rockefeller respects West Virginia's proud hunting tradition and the Second Amendment. He believes we can protect those rights while looking at ways to reduce gun violence - and prevent horrific, senseless acts like the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School - including closing loopholes in background checks, improving mental health services and exploring the effect violent media has on our youth," Beckner said.