Assault Weapons: Facts vs. Fiction

Daniel J. Mitchell

7/29/2012 12:01:00 AM

 

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that John Lott has changed the national debate on gun control. His rigorous research and prolific pen have exposed the slip-shod analysis of anti-Constitution advocates.

I’ve cited his work on several occasions.

It’s now time to share more of Lott’s work.

Responding to some of the demagoguery after the Colorado killings, here’s some of what he wrote for National Review.

…the M&P 15 and the AK-47 are “military-style weapons.” But the key word is “style” — they are similar to military guns in their aesthetics, not in the way they actually operate. The guns covered by the federal assault-weapons ban (which was enacted in 1994 and expired ten year later) were not the fully automatic machine guns used by the military but semi-automatic versions of those guns. The civilian version of the AK-47 uses essentially the same sorts of bullets as deer-hunting rifles, fires at the same rapidity (one bullet per pull of the trigger), and does the same damage.

This is a key point. I suspect most journalists (and far too many people who get their news from these clowns) genuinely think an “assault weapon” is akin to a machine gun.

Lott also shows that there is nothing about “military-style” weapons that enables a bigger magazine.

The Aurora killer’s large-capacity ammunition magazines are also misunderstood. The common perception that so-called “assault weapons” can hold larger magazines than hunting rifles is simply wrong. Any gun that can hold a magazine can hold one of any size. That is true for handguns as well as rifles. A magazine, which is basically a metal box with a spring, is also trivially easy to make and virtually impossible to stop criminals from obtaining.

Lott then discusses some of the research showing that Clinton’s assault-weapons ban didn’t reduce crime.

…despite Obama’s frightening image of military weapons on America’s streets, it is pretty hard to seriously argue that a new ban on “assault weapons” would reduce crime in the United States. Even research done for the Clinton administration didn’t find that the federal assault-weapons ban reduced crime. Indeed, banning guns on the basis of how they look, and not how they operate, shouldn’t be expected to make any difference. And there are no published academic studies by economists or criminologists that find the original federal assault-weapons ban to have reduced murder or violent crime generally. There is no evidence that the state assault-weapons bans reduced murder or violent-crime rates either.

Indeed, it appears that crime has dropped because the ban no longer exists.

Since the federal ban expired in September 2004, murder and overall violent-crime rates have actually fallen. In 2003, the last full year before the law expired, the U.S. murder rate was 5.7 per 100,000 people. Preliminary numbers for 2011 show that the murder rate has fallen to 4.7 per 100,000 people. In fact, murder rates fell immediately after September 2004, and they fell more in the states without assault-weapons bans than in the states with them.

Correlation is not causation, of course, but these results also are consistent with logic and intuition. If law-abiding people have more access to guns, it makes sense that this makes life more difficult for criminals.

P.S. For fans of the Second Amendment, you’ll enjoy these gun control posters (here, hereherehere, and here). And here are some amusing images of t-shirts and bumper stickers on gun control (herehere, and here). In addition, I’ve posted four different videos on gun control (herehere, here, and here). And here’s my interview on NRA-TV.