Assault Weapons Ban Won't Work: Why We Need Smarter, Not More Gun Control Laws


George Santayana once wrote, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." It seems gun control advocates think that reintroducing a bill similar to the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) from 1994 is a good idea in the wake of the recent shootings. If you're not aware of what the AWB entailed, it banned specific "military style assault weapons" with certain characteristics that did nothing to improve their lethality, as fellow PM'er Mike Cooper points out. I also have to point out that these so called "assault weapons" are not military grade nor are they the same weapons that our military uses despite what many of our politicians like to say. The ban was in effect for a decade and expired in 2004.

Did it work? Absolutely not. Federal government studies show that the AWB had a minimal effect on crime, and that reinstating it would continue to have a only minimal effect on crime. In addition studies have shown that the types of weapons banned would only account for 1% to 6% of all crimes involving firearms. 

Let us not forget that mass shooting at Columbine High School occurred while the AWB was in full effect. It's also worth noting that the perpetrators also had almost 100 homemade bombs. In addition, the worst school shooting in history occurred at Virginia Tech, where the shooter did not even use firearms covered under the AWB.

So we must ask ourselves a few questions. Why are we looking to reinstate draconian legislation that didn't work in the past? Why are our politicians working to push for a new AWB within thirty days when it didn't work before? Are our politicians really looking out for our safety, or are they looking to put their name on a new "Gun Ban Bill" (that will do nothing to solve our problems) in order to score cheap political points.

Instead, why don't both sides focus on areas that we all agree on instead of focusing on those that we don't? Proposals such as criminal background checks for all firearms purchases (including private sales), aggressively enforcing laws that hold straw purchasers accountable for the guns that they purchase if used in criminal activity, holding owners accountable for securing their firearms, and addressing our underfunded mental health programs. Any of these proposals would be a good place to start.