Assault Weapon Bans Shoot Up Gun Sales in States
Washington and Illinois gun control laws lead to big jump in buying, Plus North Carolina and Oregon fire up purchases
The economic and political rule that banning guns leads to law-abiding people buying more is clear in the data. The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which represents gun manufacturers and dealers, released its startling data for April sales. It shows a massive increase in gun purchases in two states that have recently passed so-called assault weapons bans.
Washington and Illinois
The NSSF reported that adjusted background checks (which closely approximate sales) went up a whopping 46% in Washington state in April compared to last year.
In Illinois, NSSF’s adjusted background checks in April 2023 were up 12% over the same month last year. To put this in perspective, background checks increased 0.7% in the same time period for the whole country.
“These figures are clear evidence that Americans will choose freedom over unconstitutional laws that deny Constitutionally-protected liberties,” NSSF’s Mark Oliva told me.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law last month that bans the sale and transfer of more than 50 types of AR-15 and AK-style rifles. The exact number of background checks, which happens when people buy guns from federally licensed dealers, went from 49,641 in April 2022 to 71,272 in April 2023.
The Illinois legislature passed an “assault weapon” ban after the mass shooting killing seven people at the Highland Park Fourth of July parade. Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signed the bill into law in January. Dan Eldridge, the owner of Maxon’s Shooter’s Supplies in Illinois, has the most detailed FAQ about the complicated law on his website here.
“These figures show that when Americans are concerned that government authorities will deny them the full spectrum of their Second Amendment rights, they will respond by exercising those rights,” Oliva said of the statistics.
“It also shows that when barriers to lawful firearm ownership are torn down, law-abiding citizens will exercise their right to lawfully purchase firearms.”
Oregon and North Carolina
Barriers were torn down in North Carolina in March when it passed a law that got rid of the requirement to get a permit to buy a handgun. As a result, background checks – i.e. sales – blew up 238%.
The legislature overturned Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto so that people can now buy pistols by passing the federal FBI background check system instead of getting a permit from the sheriff. Background checks went from 18,967 in April 2022 to 68,181 last month— most likely because it’s just easier to legally buy a gun now.
Sales were up double digits for the reverse reason in Oregon.
The NSSF report showed a huge jump in Oregon – 56% – from last year which the lobbying group says is due to “a legislature and governor’s office hostile to lawful firearm ownership.”
Assault Weapon Facts
There are now 10 states with “assault weapon” bans and all are being challenged in court for violating the landmark Supreme Court 2022 decision in New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen. The ruling said that any gun control law has to come from the text of the constitution or have a similar law in place at the founding of the nation.
The NSSF noted that it recently won a decision by a federal judge that block the Illinois law against what it calls “modern sporting rifles.”
When Inslee signed the Washington bill into law, he said at the signing, “These weapons of war, assault weapons, have no reason other than mass murder.” Inslee also said the gun’s “only purpose is to kill humans as rapidly as possible in large numbers.”
This is not true. The AR-15-style rifle – called an assault weapon by politicians – is the most popular gun in America and is rarely used in murders. The NSSF estimates there are 24 million in the U.S. now.
The FBI data for 2021 shows that 447 homicides were by rifle of any kind. This FBI does not track rifles by type so there is no data on “assault weapons”, but even if all those homicides were by AR-type rifles (which they are not), it is just…
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