March 24, 2023

Bans on “Assault” Weapons Usually do not Reduce Crime

Biden wants to roll out yet another “assault” weapons ban

Prominent Democrats, including President May well Biden, have repeatedly indicated interest in reinstating a federal attack weapons ban.

Biden themself included an assault weapon ban in his 1994 crime bill, which lasted 10 years until its expiration in 2004.   Biden has claimed that the ban did its job and reduced mass shootings : “ When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down. When the law expired, mass shootings tripled. ”

But a detailed review of the data shows that the ban had no real benefits whatsoever, plus neither did it lessen the frequency of major shootings.

What Is an Assault Weapon?

Contrary to popular belief, an assault weapons ban does not ban AR- or AK-style rifles. Attack weapons bans focus mainly on the specific functions of these rifles. The  1994 ban described assault weapons as semiautomatic rifles that

had the ability to accept a detachable magazine and owned two of the following 5 features: (1) a folding or telescopic stock; (2) a pistol grip that will protrudes conspicuously beneath the actions of the weapon; (3) the bayonet mount; (4) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate the flash suppressor; or (5) a grenade launcher.

This description permits some adjustments to become made to rifles, such as an AR-15, that would make them completely legal (or “ compliant” ). Rifles that comply must have a fixed stock. Shares cannot be telescopic or foldable. A pistol grip is certainly incompatible with a compliant gun. Compliant rifles typically have an investment that has additional material put into it, so the pistol grip is attached to the stock or is extended significantly enough to prevent the present shooter from wrapping around this with their thumb. The maximum amount of rounds the rifle’s mag can hold is 10. Anymore than that is regarded as a high-capacity magazine. The gun may not have a flash suppressor.

Many innovative minds have discovered countless ways to transform basic AR-style rifles into completely compliant weaponry. Today, several states have their own assault weapons bans with similar or identical provisions as the 1994 federal ban. In these states, the particular ownership of AR-15s and such is not at all uncommon. The same proceeded to go for gun owners during the federal ban from 1994– 2004.

The reality of compliant assault weapons is a strong indicator how the assault weapons ban failed to work, outside of some inconveniences for gun owners.   Any owner could easily convert a up to date rifle   right into a fully functional (and illegal) 1 using minimal tools plus labor. And  numerous, including mass shooters, take advantage of this . The 1994 ban led to a sharp increase in the demand for strike weapons, which initially improved prices. But after a rise in production, prices began to fall to their previous condition. A 2002 study  showed :

In the short-term, the federal AW ban reduced the availability of AWs to criminal users by maximizing the cost of these weapons within primary and, presumably, supplementary markets. However , the ban also stimulated production improves for AWs and lawful substitute models, resulting in a post-ban decline in prices.

Proponents of a renewed ban completely disregard the rise in the ownership associated with assault weapons both before and after the 1994 ban. Any positive benefits cited by Biden and other politicians and talking heads are seriously called into question because of this fact.

Did the Ban Reduce Mass Shootings?

When we closely examine the reality, Biden’s assertion that the ban will reduce the number of bulk shootings is shown to be, to put it mildly, an excessive exaggeration. It is safe in order to assume that Biden derived this claim from a 2019  study   that references the Mother Jones mass shootings database, or possibly he or she obtained it directly from Mom Jones. Either way, there are numerous defects in citing this information as evidence. The methodology Mother Jones utilized to develop their dataset on mass shootings and the conclusions that were made using this data have garnered criticism from criminologists such as  Grant Duwe, who points in order to underreporting problems and states   that “ the Mother Jones list counted exclusively on news reviews as a source of data, and news coverage tends to be much less accessible for the older situations. ”

This individual anchored the hunt for more in-depth news reporting on mass homicides in his own study of homicide utilizing the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reviews (SHR) data. The SHR data has several shortcomings, but it is the most complete homicide dataset currently accessible that sheds light on, among other things, when and where the majority of mass shootings have occurred in the United States.   Duwe’s research uncovered that mass shootings are   “ roughly as common now because they were in the 1980s and ’90s. ”

But what about the rate of recurrence of assault weapons used in mass shootings? Did that will change?   Economist John R. Lott says : “ There was simply no drop in the number of assaults with assault weapons during the 1994 to 2004 ban. There was an increase after the ban sunset, but the change is not really statistically significant. ”

Did the Ban Decrease Gun Homicides?

Assault rifles (and rifles in general) are extremely rarely used in gun crimes, so  we would not expect to see any substantial decrease in gun homicides or even gun crimes   due to the 1994 ban. Multiple studies have been done evaluating the effects of the ban on gun homicides and  the results are generally inconclusive . A 2016 review published in JAMA found that four different studies, “ do not provide evidence the ban was associated with a substantial decrease in firearm homicides. ”

Between 1991, when violent crime reached an all-time high, plus 2017,   the country’s overall violent crime rate decreased   by 47 percent, using a murder rate decline associated with 34 percent. Meanwhile,   it appears foolish to attempt to count   the particular almost two hundred million new firearms purchased by People in america,   including the a lot more than twenty million   AR-15s  and the hundreds of millions of “ large” gun and rifle magazine s.


The assumption that the 1994 assault weaponry prohibition was successful within lowering gun homicides, mass shootings, or even the possession associated with assault weapons is not backed by strong evidence. Most likely, those who advocate for the ban’s reintroduction are unaware of the persuasive evidence against the prohibition, whether on purpose or accidentally. Once the police and ATF start enforcing a new ban, right now there may even be an uptick in violence.

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