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Data Source — FBI/NIBRS Chart created by Bill Cawthon

Here is what the big picture looks like. This is all based on information submitted by police departments, sheriff’s offices and state police agencies.

See those little tiny slivers? They are the total number of violent crimes involving any type of rifle, not just “assault rifles,” any type of shotgun and any firearm that isn’t a handgun, rifle or shotgun. This includes things like homemade zip guns and such. Firearm not specified means that the type of firearm is unknown, most likely because the case is still open.

That tiny purple sliver that represents rifles is why the original Assault Weapons Ban was not renewed. It did not have any significant impact on crime because rifles are used so rarely. Furthermore, compared to the average number of rifle homicides during the ten years the ban was in effect to the ten years following its “retirement” show that the rate in the post-ban years was lower than it was during the ban.

The chart below cuts to the chase: Homicides. It’s no surprise that handguns are the most frequently used weapon in murder. Non-specified/unknown firearms are next but chances are very high that when the case is solved the weapon will turn out to be a handgun. But nearly every other form of mayhem was more popular than rifles or shotguns.

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Chart created by Bill Cawthon

B.J. Campbell has presented a lot of good information, as he always does, but I wanted to add a little extra information to show why the ban fans are so misguided.

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of

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