7 Reasons Why An Assault Weapons Ban Will Fail to Reduce Violent Crime


With Vice President Joe Biden's gun control task force looking to present their list of recommendations on gun policy to President Obama, there is discussion that a reinstatement of an Assault Weapons Ban is included on that list.

Here, however, we'll discuss seven reasons why an Assault Weapons Ban should not be a part of that discussion.

1. It didn't work before.

According to studies of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, the ban had little effect on reducing gun crime. A Department of Justice study by Roth and Koper of the original ban points out,"We were unable to detect any reduction to date in two types of gun murders that are thought to be closely associated with assault weapons, those with multiple victims in a single incident and those producing multiple bullet wounds per victim."

In addition, the study says,"At best, the assault weapons ban can have only a limited effect on total gun murders, because the banned weapons and magazines were never involved in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders."

2. The Assault Weapons Ban targets the wrong firearms.

The vast majority of crime is conducted with handguns and not firearms which are deemed assault weapons. For example, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports in 2011, of the 8583 firearm homicides that occurred, 6220 were committed by handguns, and only 323 were committed by rifles. Most assault weapons are a subset of the rifle group.

To further this point, a 2004 study by Koper points out:

"Similarly, the most common AWs prohibited by the 1994 federal ban accounted for between 1% and 6% of guns used in crime according to most of several national and local data sources examined for this and our prior study" and "the overwhelming weight of evidence from gun recovery and survey studies indicates that AWs are used in a small percentage of gun crimes overall." 

3. The ban targets guns with mostly cosmetic features.

As fellow PolicyMic pundit, Mike Cooper, points out, the original Assault Weapons Ban targeted firearms for mostly cosmetic features, as does the current one. The 2004 Chrisopher Koper study of the original ban reinforces this fact: "The gun ban provision targets a relatively small number of weapons based on outward features or accessories that have little to do with the weapons’ operation."

4. Grandfathered firearms and magazines will still be available. 

Like the previous ban, existing firearms and magazines that fall under the legislation will be grandfathered. What's ironic, according to a study by Roth and Koper, is that prior to the previous ban production and purchases of assault weapons and large capactity magazines increased dramatically, which saturated the market. The same thing is occurring today as prices and sales of firearms have spiked. If the intent were to limit the supply of these weapons, then it is already having the opposite effect.

5. Mass shootings will still happen.

Many gun control advocates, including Michael Bloomberg, admit that an Assault Weapons Ban will not prevent mass shootings. In addition, even while the last Assault Weapons Ban was in effect, 14 mass shootings still occurred during that time period, including the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School.

6. Large capacity magazines don't matter.

As seen in the Virginia Tech shooting and also Columbine, the shooters carried a large supply of additional magazines and did not go through their cache of ammo before hey had stopped their rampages. Magazine capacity matters little, as switching magazines only takes a few seconds — in this case, less than half a second.

7. Strict gun control measures do not address the root causes of violent crime.

An assault weapons ban focuses on a small subset of firearms that are rarely used in crime. Gun control laws limit the law-abiding citizen's ability to obtain a firearm, but not those of the criminal. Some of the cities with the worst gun crime are those that have strict gun control laws (Detroit, Washington D.C., Chicago, Baltimore, etc.). This is not to say that violent crime proliferates where gun control is strong, but that strong gun control does not stop the proliferation of violent crime.

The discussion of gun control should not end here, though. There are certainly measures that we should talk about to make sure we keep firearms out of the hands of people that should not have them.

For instance, we should re-examine our existing gun laws and address the fact that they are not being vigorously enforced, as detailed in an article posted on PolicyMic by fellow pundit Matt MacBradaigh. We should also find a permanent director for the BATFE, so that it can do its job in enforcing existing gun regulations, as it has been without a permanent director for years. We should look towards stronger background checks especially for the mentally ill, which all sides, including the NRA, agree on. Consideration for universal background checks for all purchases, both retail and private should also be on the table.

The debate on gun control should focus on areas that all sides find common ground on, instead of focusing on fruitless legislation that will only serve to divide us.