President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats are trying to reinstate the federal assault weapon ban that was in effect for 10 years because—they claim—it reduced gun crime. The bill, which just passed the House, will soon get a vote in the Senate.
In the effort to get it passed, Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) made some grand claims, which they called “facts,” about the previous ban on rifles leading to decreasing crime. But those facts don’t appear to be supported by evidence.
“Supporters of the bans are calling their assertions ‘facts,’ in an effort to mislead the public,” Lawrence Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) told The Epoch Times. “Many of the Democratic Members of Congress were purposefully misleading in their assertions that the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban reduced crime. This level of willful ignorance would be comical if the effects of what they are trying to do wasn’t so blatantly unconstitutional.”
The ban was in effect from 1994 to 2004.
During that time, “we witnessed gun crime with assault weapons drop by up to 40 percent,” Pelosi said on the House floor during the recent debate.
“The number of murders with rifles actually increased slightly when the ban went into effect,” John R Lott Jr., the president of Crime Research, told The Epoch Times, referring to data from the FBI’s annual release of reports from law enforcement agencies on homicides by weapon type. Lott also pointed out that no one collects data on all crimes committed with so-called assault weapons.
The term “assault weapon” is widely viewed by gun experts as a political phrase. It refers to semi-automatic rifles that have certain cosmetic features. The House bill calls an “assault weapon” a rifle that has one feature such as a pistol grip, folding stock, or grenade launcher.
While Pelosi makes it sound like there’s a grave risk of being killed by a rifle, it’s actually a rare crime. Lott has reported that the percentage of firearm murders with any type of rifles was 4.8 percent prior to the ban starting in September 1994. During the 10-year ban, homicide by rifle was 4.9 percent of all murders. Then rifle homicides dropped to 3.6percent after the ban expired in 2004.
The speaker did not cite the source of her statistics. She could be referring to how all violent crime went down since the spike in the 1980s, which would include the small number of murders by rifles.
You can see this in this graphic of the FBI data. The decrease was dramatic.
There were 15,463 homicides by gun in 1994 when the ban went into effect and 724 were by rifles. When the ban expired in 2004, there were 9,385 homicides and 403 of them were by rifle.
“The falling crime rates are more likely due to many other factors than firearm ownership, including a concerted effort and focus on prosecuting criminals,” explained Keane.
Pelosi’s press office did not respond to a request for information on the source of her data.
Furthermore, there is no study that has proven that the gun control law had a direct effect on crime reduction. Quite the opposite, Rand’s “Study of Gun Policy” in 2018 (pdf) looked at various studies on the impact of the law on violent crime and concluded that “available evidence is inconclusive for the effect of assault weapon bans on total homicides and firearm homicides.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) also published a report in 2003 on evaluating the effectiveness of firearms laws and studied the assault weapon ban. It said that studie...