Leftist politicians frequently cite the perceived need for a ban on so-called assault weapons, despite the fact that advocates cannot always agree on what the controversial term even means.
The United States did implement a nationwide restriction on certain semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines for about a decade beginning in 1994 — and in the wake of recent mass shootings, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre touted its supposed effectiveness.
During Tuesday’s White House press briefing, she said: “The last time we had an assault weapons ban on the books, thanks to the president and Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s leadership, mass shootings actually went down.”
President Joe Biden was a Democratic U.S. senator from Delaware when he teamed up with Feinstein (D-CA) to push for the ban nearly 30 years ago.
Although gun control proponents frequently insist that similar restrictions should be implemented now, the author of a Department of Justice study published just before the prior ban expired in 2004 shot down much of their argument.
University of Pennsylvania professor Christopher Koper wrote the National Institute of Justice report using data from throughout the 10-year period during which the ban was in place.
Based on his findings, he concluded: “We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”
The report went on to determine that any impact the ban might have had is “likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”
Koper also referenced perhaps the most compelling case against an assault weapons ban, noting that such guns were “rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.”
Indeed, California currently has such a statewide ban on the books and it was the site of two recent deadly mass shootings. Reports indicate the gunmen in both cases used handguns that would not have been prohibited under an assault weapons ban.
Of course, none of this has stopped prominent Democrats from once again pushing to revive a new version of the 1994 law.
In a statement on Tuesday, Biden called on Congress to approve “a federal assault weapons ban and legislation that would raise the minimum age for assault weapons to 21,” describing it as “action to keep American communities, schools, workplaces, and homes safe.”