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Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 to 2004

04/05/2023 9:59 AM | Anonymous

Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 to 2004  by Tom Reynolds

The Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 to 2004 is described by Joe Biden as effective while others refer to as not effective.  Here are portions of the report for you to judge for yourself.    

The Department of Justice funded a study by Christopher S. Kopher titled: ‘Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003’.  It was published in 2004.

The following description comes directly from the report:

Enacted on September 13, 1994, Title XI, Subtitle A of the ‘Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994’ imposed a 10-year ban on the “manufacture, transfer, and possession” of certain semiautomatic firearms designated as assault weapons (AWs). The AW ban is not a prohibition on all semiautomatics. Rather, it is directed at semiautomatics having features that appear useful in military and criminal applications but unnecessary in shooting sports or self-defense.

The ban was based on cosmetic features.                                                                                                            Per the report (emphasis added):  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.

The report uses the term Assault Weapon and Semi-Automatic Weapon interchangeably.  Many people are confused by the use of the term ‘Assault Weapon’ and identify that term with an ‘automatic’ weapon (machine gun).  That confusion is encouraged by the Left as it helps create an untrue paradigm that benefits their anti-2nd Amendment biases. 

The ban and the report also used the term ‘silencer’ instead of its correct term ‘suppressor’.  The Hollywood image that a ‘suppressor’ is almost soundless is so far from reality as to be laughable, but that image contributes to public misunderstanding of its true nature

The ban covered 3 types of Assault Weapons (all semi-automatics).  This description is taken directly from the report:   

Weapon Category Military-Style Features (Two or more qualify a firearm as an assault weapon)

Semiautomatic pistols accepting detachable magazines:

1) ammunition magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip

2) threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash hider, forward handgrip, or silencer

3) heat shroud attached to or encircling the barrel

4) weight of more than 50 ounces unloaded

5) semiautomatic version of a fully automatic weapon

Semiautomatic rifles accepting detachable magazines:

1) folding or telescoping stock

2) pistol grip that protrudes beneath the firing action

3) bayonet mount 4) flash hider or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one

5) grenade launcher

Semiautomatic shotguns:

1) folding or telescoping stock

2) pistol grip that protrudes beneath the firing action

3) fixed magazine capacity over 5 rounds 4) ability to accept a detachable ammunition magazine

In general, the AW ban does not apply to semiautomatics possessing no more than one military-style feature.

The ban contained important exemptions.                                                                                                        AWs manufactured before the effective date of the ban were “grandfathered” and thus legal to own and transfer.

‘Assault Weapons’ are rarely used in crimes.                                                                                                Per the report (emphasis added): Assault Weapons (AWs) were used in only a small fraction of gun crimes prior to the ban: about 2% according to most studies and no more than 8%. Most of the AWs used in crime are assault pistols rather than assault rifles

AWs and other guns equipped with Large Capacity Magazines (LCMs) tend to account for a higher share of guns used in murders of police and mass public shootings, though such incidents are very rare.

Even the highest estimates, which correspond to particularly rare events such mass murders and police murders, are no higher than 13%. Note also that the majority of AWs used in crime are assault pistols (APs) rather than assault rifles (ARs).

Why are ‘assault weapons’ rarely used in crimes.                                                                                        Per the reportThe relative rarity of AW use in crime can be attributed to a number of factors. Many AWs are long guns, which are used in crime much less often than handguns…Also, AWs are more expensive…and more difficult to conceal than the types of handguns that are used most frequently in crime.

The Ban’s Success in Reducing Criminal Use of the Banned Guns and Magazines Has Been Mixed. 

During the period studied, there was a decline in handguns used in crimes but an insignificant change in the use of the ‘infamous’ Assault Rifle.   This was shown by the results of the study (emphasis added):

The decline in the use of AWs has been due primarily to a reduction in the use of assault pistols (APs), which are used in crime more commonly than assault rifles (ARs). There has not been a clear decline in the use of ARs, though assessments are complicated by the rarity of crimes with these weapons and by substitution of post-ban rifles that are very similar to the banned AR models.

Predictions are tenuous .

Per the report (emphasis added):  Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. AWs were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.

The study takes a shot (pun intended) at the exaggeration of other studies: Further the figures reported in some studies prompt concerns about exaggeration of AW ownership (perhaps linked to publicity over the AW issue during the early 1990s when a number of these studies were conducted), particularly among juvenile offenders, who have reported ownership levels as high as 35% just for ARs (Sheley and Wright, 1993a)

Even so, most survey evidence on the actual use of AWs suggests that offenders rarely use AWs in crime.

By most estimates, AWs were used in less than 6% of gun crimes even before the ban. Some may have perceived their use to be more widespread, however, due to the use of AWs in particularly rare and highly publicized crimes such as mass shootings (and, to a lesser extent, murders of police).

One final thought--  While Biden and Hochul want to ban ‘Assault Weapons’, the following statistics come from a recent Washington Post-Ipsos poll:

31 percent of adults report owning guns.

Of those, the poll found that 20 percent own an AR-15 rifle. 

Taken together, the polls find that 6 percent of Americans own an AR-15, about 1 in 20…The data suggests that with a U.S. population of 260.8 million adults, about 16 million Americans own an AR-15.

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has previously estimated that there are over 24.4 million AR-15s and similar rifles—known as “modern sporting rifles”—in civilian hands as of 2022. 

So, somewhere between 16 and 24 million Americans own an AR 15 rifle.  That qualifies as ‘in common use’.  But Biden and Hochul want to ban them.

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East Aurora, NY 14052

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