Democrats are once again standing on the bodies of those killed by firearms in order to violated the rights all Americans have to self-defense. This time, it’s the victims of the terrorist attack in San Bernadino. Democrats are using that as a reason to try to bring back the Assault Weapons ban enacted during the Clinton era.
And they are using one of the most tired cliches to justify it.
“Now, let’s remember that assault weapons were first designed for the battlefield by Germans during the Second World War,” said Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.), according to The Hill. “The sole purpose of their existence was to kill as many people as quickly as possible during military combat.”
First of all, there’s no such thing as an “assault weapon.” Writing in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson wrote, “Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term, developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of ‘assault rifles’ so as to allow an attack on as many additional firearms as possible on the basis of undefined ‘evil’ appearance.”
Here’s more from the people who want to restrict your rights:
“The assault weapons we’re talking about today are not just any guns,” Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) told reporters. “They’re not for hunting, they’re not for target practice. These are weapons of war, designed to inflict the maximum amount of death and injury.”
“I don’t know any hunters who use an assault weapon — and if they do, that’s not much of a sport,” added House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.).
“I understand people want to protect themselves in their homes,” Hoyer said, “but what we have here is a reasonable restraint.”
See, the reasonable restraint doesn’t need to be placed on the people. It’s the government that needs restraint.
The Constitution did that at one time, but not anymore.
Here’s the thing about this ban, though. It did nothing when it was in place before. Multiple studies prove that.
But don’t take our word for it. The Washington Post reported in 2013:
Did the law have an effect on crime or gun violence? While gun violence did fall in the 1990s, this was likely due to other factors. Here’s the UPenn study again: “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.”
One reason is that assault weapons were never a huge factor in gun violence to begin with. They were used in only 2 percent to 8 percent of gun crimes. Large-capacity magazines were more important — used in as many as a quarter of gun crimes. But, again, the 1994 law left more than 24 million magazines untouched, so the impact was blunted.
Did the law have an effect on mass shootings? That’s possible, though not certain. As this chart from Princeton’s Sam Wang shows, the number of people killed in mass shootings did go down in the years the ban was in effect (save for a surge in 1999, a year that included Columbine):
Because mass shootings are relatively rare, it’s difficult to tell whether this was just a random blip or caused by the ban. Still, the number of mass shootings per year has doubled since the ban expired. That’s suggestive, at least.
Plus, most of the gun violence in America is committed with handguns, and no one is suggesting anything be done about that.
This is about doing something, anything, even if it doesn’t work. Even if there’s no chance of it passing.
And that’s key, since a majority of Americans are against more gun control. If this were to pass, it would hurt Democrats, which is why they’re proposing it now, when they’re sure Republicans will kill it.
It’s all theater and politics. Sad, but that’s the truth of it.