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CPRC on Assault Weapon Bans Confirms “Relative Rarity” of Rifle Use in Murders

Monday, February 12, 2024

CPRC on Assault Weapon Bans Confirms “Relative Rarity” of Rifle Use in Murders

In 1994, Congress enacted the Title XI of the Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, imposing a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” The law prohibited the manufacture, transfer, or possession of a “semiautomatic assault weapon,” as listed (e.g., Colt AR-15) or defined (including any semiautomatic rifle that could accept a detachable magazine and had two or more of the specified cosmetic features, like a folding or telescoping stock). The law’s sunset provision repealed the law ten years after it was passed. The Attorney General was required to study the impact of the legislation on violent crime and report back to Congress. Once the ban expired in 2004, it was not renewed.

Since then, gun control advocates at the state and federal level, including President Joe Biden, have not stopped agitating to have similar assault weapon laws reinstated, claiming that these ordinary, popular firearms are “high powered,” “exceptionally deadly,” and “excessively dangerous.” President Biden, the most virulently anti-Second Amendment occupant of the Oval Office to date, appears to personally define “assault weapon” to include any semiautomatic firearm, has repeatedly called for a new ban, alleging that “150 million Americans” have died from gun violence since 2007, and that “mass shootings went down” during the ban and “tripled” once the 1994 ban expired.

Like most of Biden’s over-the-top rhetoric on guns, his assertion that the 1994 ban reduced crime is unsupportable. Two separate studies by the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) on the impact of the ban (here and here) found the ban had no discernible effect on violent crime. A more recent study in 2017 concluded that “[s]pecific laws directed at … the banning of military-style assault weapons were not associated with changes in firearm homicide rates.”

The Crime Prevention Research Center (CPRC, crimeresearch.org) examined Biden’s claim about mass shootings in particular and concluded that there “was no drop in the number of attacks with assault weapons during the 1994 to 2004 ban.” While there was an increase after the ban sunset, “the change is not statistically significant. More importantly, if Biden’s claim is correct, we should see a drop in the percent of attacks with assault weapons during the federal ban period and then an increase in the post-ban period, but the exact opposite is true.”

One of the DOJ studies explained the study’s outcome, in part, by reference to the “relative rarity with which the banned weapons were used in gun violence even before the ban.” New research from the CPRC reinforces this finding. Using data from the FBI UCR reports, the CPRC has examined the share of murders committed with any kind of rifle over time, including before, during and after the 1994 federal ban. The Center’s research looked at two indicators of rifle use, in murders generally, and as a share of the more specific class of firearm murders.

Three years before the federal ban, in 1991, the share of firearm murders with rifles (FMR) was 5.18%, and rifles were involved in 3.44% of all murders (MR). At the start of the ban, the share of FMR was already down to 4.69%, while the MR percentage fell slightly, to 3.27%. During the “assault weapon” ban, both numbers spiked twice to exceed the pre-ban levels: first in 1997 (5.95% FMR, 4.03% MR), and again in 2002 (5.12% FMR, 3.42% MR), before reaching somewhat lower levels by the time the ban expired in 2004 (4.29% FMR, 2.97% MR).

Although it may be tempting to attribute these drops, as slight as they are, to the effect of the ban, an analysis over the longer term shows that the ban had no effect on the frequency of use of rifles in murders. In the 12-year period after the ban ended (2005-2017), both the FMR and MR numbers continued to drop and generally stayed below (in some years, well below) what they had been before and during the ban. In 2019, the numbers began a steady rise but, as of 2022, were still below both the 1994 and 2004 numbers (at 3.66% FMR, 2.80% MR).

The CPRC commentary states “it is interesting to see what a small share of murders are committed with any type of rifle and how even that share has fallen over time,” adding that there “was no statistically significant difference in rates before the ban compared to the assault weapon ban period.”

There’s a lesson in these numbers, but it’s not one that gun control advocates are interested in. Joe Biden will almost certainly make gun control, and in particular, an assault weapons ban, a cornerstone of his reelection campaign. It’s particularly ironic, then that his first campaign video of 2024 opens with him intoning, “Freedom. Personal freedom is fundamental to who we are as Americans. There’s nothing more important. Nothing more sacred. That’s been the work of my first term… To protect our rights…. The question we’re facing is whether in the years ahead, we have more freedom or less freedom. More rights or fewer.” While Biden gets worked up over “MAGA extremists…lining up to take those bedrock freedoms,” he should, perhaps, spare a thought to how perverse it is to present himself as a champion of fundamental constitutional rights.  

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Louisiana: Senate Passes Constitutional Carry - Take Action Now!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Louisiana: Senate Passes Constitutional Carry - Take Action Now!

Today, the Senate passed Senate Bill 1, NRA backed constitutional carry legislation, on a 28-10 vote. The bill will next be considered in the House. Please contact your state representative and ask them to SUPPORT Senate Bill 1.

Ontario Latest Province to Snub Trudeau’s Gun Grab – “Ontario Should Not Be Spending Taxpayers’ Money Towards the Program”

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Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Ontario Latest Province to Snub Trudeau’s Gun Grab – “Ontario Should Not Be Spending Taxpayers’ Money Towards the Program”

The wheels are coming off the mandatory “assault weapon” gun ban and confiscation scheme that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau launched four years ago.

Hawaii Justices “Declare War” on U.S. Supreme Court, to the Cheers of Anti-Gun Media

News  

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Hawaii Justices “Declare War” on U.S. Supreme Court, to the Cheers of Anti-Gun Media

In Hawaii, a man who was peacefully carrying a pistol for his own self-protection while on a nature hike was arrested and subject to felony prosecution under state laws that generally confine the possession of ...

Minnesota: "Assault Weapons" Ban Referred to the Committee on Public Safety Finance and Policy

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Minnesota: "Assault Weapons" Ban Referred to the Committee on Public Safety Finance and Policy

On Monday, House File 3570 was referred to the House Committee on Public Safety Finance and Policy and would ban so called “assault weapons” by expanding upon an existing statute used to define these firearms. The bill ...

Colorado: Semi-Auto Ban Introduced in General Assembly

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Colorado: Semi-Auto Ban Introduced in General Assembly

Anti-Gun extremist State Reps. Tim Hernandez (D-04) and Elisabeth Epps (D-06) introduced House Bill 24-1292, a bill banning the manufacturing, importing, purchasing, selling, offering to sell, or transferring ownership of so called “assault weapons”. 

South Carolina: Permitless Carry Passes the Senate, Waiting on Concurrence by the House

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

South Carolina: Permitless Carry Passes the Senate, Waiting on Concurrence by the House

Last week, South Carolina moved one step closer to becoming the 28th state to enact Permitless/Constitutional Carry! This effort has been years in the making, clearing a major hurdle by passing the Senate, which has been ...

Virginia: Mandatory Waiting Period and Other Anti-Gun Bills Headed to the Governor's Desk

Friday, February 23, 2024

Virginia: Mandatory Waiting Period and Other Anti-Gun Bills Headed to the Governor's Desk

Contact Governor Youngkin today and urge his veto!  Anti-gun extremists in the Virginia General Assembly have made diminishing your Second Amendment Rights a top priority this legislative session. This week a slew of gun control ...

Louisiana: House Committee to Hear Constitutional Carry Monday - Take Action Now!

Friday, February 23, 2024

Louisiana: House Committee to Hear Constitutional Carry Monday - Take Action Now!

Monday, February 26, at 10:00 AM, the House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee will hear Senate Bill 1, the NRA-backed constitutional carry legislation. SB 1 was passed by the Senate earlier this week with overwhelming support. Please contact committee members ...

2024 SESSION OF THE NEW MEXICO LEGISLATURE COMES TO AN END

Thursday, February 15, 2024

2024 SESSION OF THE NEW MEXICO LEGISLATURE COMES TO AN END

The New Mexico Legislature concluded its 30-day session on Thursday at noon.  Gun control dominated the discussion during what was supposed to be a "budget session". NRA-ILA was at the Roundhouse every single day, fighting extremist gun ...

New Hampshire: House Advances Critical Gun Owner Privacy Legislation

Friday, February 23, 2024

New Hampshire: House Advances Critical Gun Owner Privacy Legislation

On Thursday, February 22nd, the New Hampshire House of Representatives held floor votes on gun related bills.

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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.