Biden's obsession with the assault weapon ban
Gun control can't pass the Senate and won't stop mass shootings
Joe Biden has called for a federal ban on “assault weapons” in 20 speeches and statements in the 18 months he’s been president. He’s singularly focused on talking publicly about making illegal rifles with certain cosmetic features - despite conceding Thursday, that it won’t become law again anytime soon.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi is aiding and abetting Biden’s obsession by having a hearing to mark up an assault weapons ban bill this week. It won’t pass the Senate. It won’t stop a mass murderer. So what’s the point of all this?
A little over a week after an 18-year old homicidal maniac murdered 19 school children and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas, Biden addressed the nation on the recent mass shootings.
The president’s candle-lit, dinnertime speech came off strange. He was forceful at odd times, whispered on live TV, stumbled on his words and seemed to not quite know what was in the teleprompter. Watch it here:
In the remarks, Biden conflates the two issues of mass shootings and banning assault weapons. Not all mass killers use rifles, even though most do. Mass shootings are rare and mostly unpredictable. Banning so-called assault weapons affects millions of law-abiding gun owners.
More than 99% of gun homicides are by handguns, but Biden doesn’t address the violent crime spike in America. So let’s try to break down his argument for banning just rifles with certain cosmetic features to stop mass shootings.
A new assault-weapon ban
In his weird speech, he said his proposal will fail before saying it should be passed. I put the key part in bold: First, he said this:
We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And if we can’t ban assault weapons, then we should raise the age to purchase them from 18 to 21.
Increasing the age to buy a rifle to 21 years old also will never get through the Senate, and the president knows that. Next, he switches back to pushing for a vote.
These are rational, commonsense measures. And here’s what it all means. It all means this: We should reinstate the assault weapons ban and high-capacity magazines that we passed in 1994 with bipartisan support in Congress and the support of law enforcement. Nine categories of semi-automatic weapons were included in that ban, like AK-47s and AR-15s.
The president should know and explain to people that the rifles banned in 1994 were were not by specific models that sounds scary but rather by the cosmetic features. The rifle couldn’t have two or more cosmetic features like a pistol grip or a collapsing stock.
These laws are on the books in many blue states (like Buffalo, New York), and I’ve never read any crime analysis to show the ban reduces any murders.
Anyway, the president’s speech returned to admitting defeat:
In Uvalde… as soon as he turned 18, he purchased two assault weapons for himself. Because in Texas, you can be 18 years old and buy an assault weapon even though you can’t buy a pistol in Texas until you’re 21.
If we can’t ban assault weapons, as we should, we must at least raise the age to be able to purchase one to 21.
If getting what he wants is not possible, what is the point of spending so much time on live, national TV to ask for an assault weapon ban?
Everyone in D.C. is under pressure now to “do something” in D.C. after the horrifying school shooting. Parents across the country are rightly scared for their children’s basic safety in the schools.
But we know from crime analysis that the first assault weapon ban didn’t cause a decrease in murders or mass shootings. But Biden said this on Thursday:
…in the 10 years [the assault weapons ban] was law, mass shootings went down. But after Republicans let the law expire in 2004 and those weapons were allowed to be sold again, mass shootings tripled. Those are the facts.
The fact is that there is nothing to support linking the end of the ban and an increase in mass shootings. As I wrote in this article in March 2021:
The ban expired in 2004 after the FBI told Congress the law was not needed for gun crime. Crime overall decreased in the 90s and 00s, and rifle crime is rare in the country.
Dianne Feinstein who is the biggest proponent of an assault weapon ban, estimated in 2013 about 50 people are killed each year in America by guns with the characteristics that make them banned.
Mass shootings trends
The fact is mass shootings —which the government defines as four (or three, more recently, per the FBI) unrelated people killed at one public place at the same time — go up and down every year with no pattern other than they account for somewhere between 50 and 100 homicides a year.
Ten years ago, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report (linked at the bottom) that tracked all the mass shootings from 1983 to 2012 and found there had been 78 total incidents in 30 years that claimed 547 lives. The CRS concluded that:
Significantly, while tragic and shocking, public mass shootings account for few of the murders or non-negligent homicides related to firearms that occur annually in the United States.
The last assault-weapon ban
Law enforcement does not track the cosmetic features of rifles in order to report whether or not they can be defined by the political terms as “assault weapon” in crime statistics. But like I wrote, even Dianne Feinstein says the black rifle is used in about 50 homicides a year. And she wrote the law.
We can look at all files. I made a document of the number of homicides by type of gun every year before, during and after Biden’s first assault-weapon ban. You can download it at the bottom to read. You’ll see that the use of a rifle in gun homicides was about 4 percent almost every year. The ban didn’t make a difference.
As for the ban itself, in 2004, Christopher S. Koper did the most respected study of its effectiveness for the Department of Justice and concluded that:
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. [Assault weapons] were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.
When Biden claims mass shootings are way up, it’s because he’s using sources that have an agenda (I’ll write more about this soon.) Radical activists run the “Gun Violence Archive” and they made up a new definition that politicians and media are using for mass shootings which is anytime multimple people are shot, not killed.
Unfortunately, this happens all the time in our big cities and violence has increased dramatically in America since the initial first lockdown of the pandemic.
Murder by rifle
In 2020, the FBI reported there were an astounding 21,570, homicides, which was a 30 percent increase from 2019. I put the graph below to see how big of a jump this crime spike is in our country over time.
The FBI hasn’t released its 2021 numbers yet because its new reporting system that started the year of the crime spike —2020— isn’t working. So now the information is a mess on two different websites and lagging in sharing with the public. I linked an article about the FBI crime data debacle in my sources at the bottom if you want to read more about the change. It’s frustrating.
The best I could find is use the new FBI “crime data explorer” — linked below— to determine if homicide by rifle has increased more than the rate of murders since the “assault weapon” that Biden wants to ban is the rifle.
The data is incomplete because it’s only counting out of the 12,892 homicides by gun that the FBI has gotten detailed by state and local law enforcement agencies. But the big picture is there were 455 murders by a rifle of any kind in 2020.
See the screen grab from the FBI page below. You’ll see rifles come after “hands and fits.”
In 2019, the estimated number of murders in the nation was 16,425. The FBI website (see below) shows it only knows the cause of homicides for 13,927, and of those, rifles were used in just 364 murderers.
Banning a rifle with cosmetic features will not decrease mass shootings, nor any murder. Criminals will get guns if they are determined.
I’ve been reporting on the federal policies on gun control for 10 years. I used my own book, Emily Gets Her Gun, to research for this article because the data has not changed. No gun control law has ever been proven to reduce gun crimes. If you can find proof otherwise, leave in the comments for me to read.
Biden said during that speech 10 times that we have to “do something.” He knows voters in his party want gun control after the school shooting. However, everyone in Washington knows there are not enough votes in the Senate for a new law restricting guns.
But the president revealed his real agenda: