Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

20 Years and Millions of “Assault Weapons” and “Large” Magazines Ago...

Friday, November 13, 2015

20 Years and Millions of “Assault Weapons” and “Large” Magazines Ago...

Twenty years ago, not long after Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-Calif.) federal “assault weapon” and “large” magazine “ban” took effect, CBS 60 Minutes reporter Lesley Stahl faced a dilemma. To help Feinstein make her case for a new ban that would cover more types of guns and more magazines, CBS would have to do something that doesn’t come naturally to gun control supporters. It would have to tell the truth.

The network hadn’t done so previously. In 1989, the year Senators Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) and Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) introduced the first “assault weapon” bills in Congress, CBS 48 Hours had tried to drum up public support for a ban by showing fully-automatic firearms being fired during a story about semi-automatic “assault weapons.” Interspersed with video footage of machine gun bursts and placards labeled “machine gun” for those who couldn’t figure it out for themselves, the subsequently discredited news anchor, Dan Rather, intoned, “Armed and deadly. . . . The right to bear arms. . . . Have we gone too far?”

In 1995, however, CBS did the right thing, even if for the wrong reason, by exposing the ineptitude with which Feinstein’s legislation had been written, and the patent dishonesty of its most enthusiastic supporter, President Bill Clinton.

Stahl showed footage of Clinton claiming the legislation “will finally ban these assault weapons from our streets.” On the one hand, she didn’t point out that most detachable-magazine, semi-automatic rifles were not “on the streets,” but were instead at the rifle range, in hunting fields, or locked behind closed doors in people’s homes. However, Stahl derided Clinton’s claim as “a good applause line.” Calling 1994 “the best year for the sales of assault weapons ever,” Stahl said, “these banned weapons are still everywhere.” She offered two reasons why.

First, firearms and magazines lawfully within the United States before the “ban” took effect on Sept. 13, 1994, were exempt. Second, the “ban” allowed manufacturers to continue making and selling “banned” firearms, provided that certain external attachments were omitted as the firearms came down the assembly line. The most common resulting firearm: an AR-15, absent its standard flash suppressor and bayonet mount. Over 730,000 AR-15s in this so-called “post-ban” configuration were made and sold during the 10 years the “ban” was on the books.

Stahl could have also mentioned, but didn’t, that magazines manufactured overseas before the law took effect were exempt as well. That exemption, according to the sponsor of the “ban” in the House of Representatives, Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), resulted in the importation of 50 million “large” magazines during the 10 years the “ban” was in effect.

For these reasons, the Violence Policy Center (VPC), the handgun prohibition group that in 1988 had conceived the idea of campaigning against “assault weapons” as a way to “strengthen the handgun restriction lobby,” complained that the “ban” was “badly flawed,” “a ban in name only,” and a “charade.”

In 2003, 2005 and 2007, then-Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation to impose a ban that would do what Feinstein’s 1994 legislation had failed to do, and in 2013 Feinstein introduced the same sort of legislation herself. Dishonestly, gun control supporters have said that the new legislation proposed to “reinstate” the earlier “ban,” and the media played along. In December 2012, USA Today said, “President Obama supports efforts to reinstate an assault weapons ban.” In January this year, the Washington Post said that President Obama’s gun control proposals included “reinstating the assault weapons ban.” A petition promoted online by Change.org in early 2013 urged the U.S. Senate to “Reinstate the federal assault weapons ban” and, after the Senate refused to do so, the New York Times reported, “Senate Vote 101 Rejects Feinstein Proposal to Reinstate Assault Weapons Ban.”

However, the new legislation didn’t propose to “reinstate” anything. Back in 1995, during the 60 Minutes piece, Feinstein had said, “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them—‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ‘em all in,’ I would have done it.” Her 2013 legislation didn’t go that far, but it proposed to ban the manufacture and importation of all semi-automatic shotguns and all detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles, regardless of their appearance, along with other categories of guns and magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

Maybe one day Lesley Stahl will cover the issue again. If she does, we hope she will make it clear that Americans now own tens of millions of semi-automatic shotguns and detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles, an equal or larger number of semi-automatic handguns, and so many tens of millions of “large” magazines for semi-automatic rifles and handguns, and even some other firearms, that it’s pointless to guess their precise number. And, though Americans are now much better armed for their protection than when the first “assault weapon” and “large” magazine bans were proposed, the nation’s murder rate is at an all-time low.

Having seen 60 Minutes in action on another gun issue recently, however, we won’t hold our breath.

TRENDING NOW
Out of Style: Levi’s Fawns Over Shannon Watts in Pantmaker’s Latest Gun Control Effort

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Out of Style: Levi’s Fawns Over Shannon Watts in Pantmaker’s Latest Gun Control Effort

At the National Retail Federation’s 2018 convention in New York City, Levi Strauss & Co. Brand President James Curleigh told those assembled that the multinational pants manufacturer intends to be the “most relevant lifestyle brand.” Evidently, part ...

Trump Administration, Other Pro-Gun Heavyweights Lend Support on Pending Supreme Court Case

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Trump Administration, Other Pro-Gun Heavyweights Lend Support on Pending Supreme Court Case

As NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox reported in March, the U.S. Supreme Court has taken up a challenge by an NRA state affiliate to a New York City gun control scheme that effectively prohibits lawfully ...

Retired Justice Stevens Continues Crusade Against Guns

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Retired Justice Stevens Continues Crusade Against Guns

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens does not believe a law-abiding citizen has a right to possess firearms under the Second Amendment, and he wants to make sure everyone knows it. He made his ...

Gov. Abbott Signs NRA-Backed Tenants' Rights Bill

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Gov. Abbott Signs NRA-Backed Tenants' Rights Bill

The National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) applauded Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday for signing NRA-backed legislation that protects tenants’ rights by prohibiting “no firearms” clauses in residential leases.   

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Only What We Want Ye to Hear

News  

Friday, May 17, 2019

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Only What We Want Ye to Hear

Can we finally put the claim that “gun violence” research is underfunded to rest? The Bloomberg Professor of American Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, Daniel Webster, and his colleagues at the Hopkins ...

NRA Supports Guns Save Life's Challenge to Illinois’s FOID Act

News  

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

NRA Supports Guns Save Life's Challenge to Illinois’s FOID Act

NRA is supporting a legal challenge to Illinois's FOID Act brought by Guns Save Life, an organization dedicated to defending the Second Amendment rights of Illinois residents. 

Governor Abbott Signs NRA-Backed Tenants' Rights Bill

Friday, May 17, 2019

Governor Abbott Signs NRA-Backed Tenants' Rights Bill

On Thursday, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 302 by Representative Dennis Paul (R-Houston) & Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), NRA-supported legislation that prohibits “no firearms” clauses in residential leases.

Illinois: Committee To Receive FOID Cost Increase Legislation

Friday, May 17, 2019

Illinois: Committee To Receive FOID Cost Increase Legislation

On May 21st, the Illinois state House of Representatives Rules Committee will hear House Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 1966 and send it to the Judiciary Committee for further consideration.  HA 1 to SB 1966 would ...

NRA Applauds Attorneys General and Governors Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Challenge

News  

Thursday, May 16, 2019

NRA Applauds Attorneys General and Governors Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Challenge

NRA Applauds Attorney General and Governors Amicus Brief in Supreme Court Challenge.

Nevada: Omnibus Anti-Gun Bill Granted Waiver From Deadlines

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Nevada: Omnibus Anti-Gun Bill Granted Waiver From Deadlines

As previously alerted, yesterday was the deadline for legislation to pass out of the policy committee in the second chamber.  A waiver was granted for Assembly Bill 291, exempting the bill from the deadlines.  This waiver ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.