One of the reasons the first Assault Weapons Ban passed muster is that it not only exempted all firearms owned on the effective date, it also exempted existing inventories of the banned firearms. Therefore the government was not taking any private property, which would have required just compensation due to the requirements of the Fifth Amendment. All it did was prohibit the manufacture and sale of new firearms for civilian use after the pipeline was emptied.
The only basis for claims made that the AWB reduced mass shootings is Louis Klarevas’ definition of a mass shooting as one in which there were six or more deaths, not including that of the perpetrator. The more commonly accepted definition is either three or four deaths, not including the perpetrator. Using the more widely accepted standard shows that the number of mass shooting events remained fairly constant during the AWB.
While the FBI said that data over the ten-years span of the AWB, there was no reason to expect a significant impact on crime, other than mass shootings, which were sensational but not a major factor in total homicides. Indeed, in 2016, rifles of all types were used to commit roughly 3.9% of homicides reported to the FBI (my figure includes supplemental data from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and does include the Pulse nightclub killings). Since the data is generally fairly consistent from year to year, the FBI’s analysis is probably accurate.
The statement that 100% of mass shootings involved an AR-15-style rifle is false. Using the time period un the CNN graphic, which dates from the Century Theater shootings in 2012 to the most recent shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, we find that AR-15s were used in 14 of 44, or about 32% of cases. An AR-15 was present but not used by Chris Mercer in his attack at Umpqua Community College. Semi-automatic pistols were used more often than any AR-15-style rifle. The single most-often used firearm in mass shootings is the Glock pistol. All types of military-style-rifles were used in 43% of the mass shootings in the period from July 20, 2012 to May 18, 2018.
Nikolas J. Cruz is the only person under 21 to use an AR-15 that they had legally purchased in a mass shooting. This is over the entire 54-year period since Colt introduced the AR-15 to the civilian market in 1964. Cruz is one of an estimated 12.7 million young America adults, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. Dean Allen Mellburg was 20 when he used a legally purchased AK-47 in a mass shooting at Fairchild AFB in 1994 and Tyler Peterson was a 20-year-old deputy sheriff when he used a department-issued AR-15 in a mass shooting in Crandon, Wisconsin in 2007.
Cruz’s purchase of a Smith & Wesson M&P-15 rifle in 2017 was made possible not by any flaw in gun laws or the NICS system, but by a funding-driven policy of diversion between the Broward County Board of Education and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. This policy prevented sheriff’s deputies from arresting, charging and prosecuting Cruz for multiple violent incidents, including some that would have been felonies and would have prevented Cruz from legally acquiring or possessing a gun, even if he had not been sentenced to prison. The shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School was also facilitated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which did not refer two tips involving Cruz to the agency’s field office in Miami or to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office.
In addition to the S&W rifle, Cruz had also purchased six other firearms, including a copy of an AK-47 rifle. Some reports indicated that Cruz also had a small number of illegally acquired guns.
Ironically, David Hogg, Emma Rodriguez and the others chose to gloss over the enabling factors and the failure of the Broward County deputy who violated the policy that has been in place in almost every U.S. law enforcement agency since Columbine and failed to engage Cruz. While we don’t know if the deputy could have saved any lives, we do know that he didn’t. However, Hogg and Rodriquez mysteriously gave all that a free pass to focus on possibly the least important factor: the fact that Cruz selected the S&W rifle from his home collection for his mass shooting.
There is a fundamental disconnect between those who wish to ban the AR-15 and those who own them. The AR platform is actually superior in many ways to traditional hunting and other sporting rifles. In comparable calibers, there is less felt recoil, due to the extended buffer assembly; the adjustable stock makes the rifle easily adaptable to a broad range of human sizes; the pistol grip (which is needed because of the straight stock that houses the buffer tube), allows for a more ergonomic, more natural grip. The enclosed fore-end prevents the hand from being burned by a hot barrel.
The AR platform is popular for hunting because it is well-suited to it. People who say the AR-15 isn’t suitable for hunting confuse the rifle with the cartridge. The .223 Remington cartridge is prohibited in some states for hunting deer. However the AR-15 isn’t limited to the .223 cartridge. With a new upper modular assembly, the rifle’s caliber can be quickly and easily changed to several other calibers that are suitable for deer. The AR-15 with the .223 Remington cartridge is popular for hunting feral hogs, where the extra ammunition can be very helpful (state laws have limits on the amount of ammunition that can be loaded for different game and in different seasons).
For larger game, there is the AR-10 platform which can handle calibers suitable for game up to elk. The AR-10 was the original rifle developed by Eugene Stoner. Stoner was not directly involved in the development of the AR-15, which came later.
The AR-15 is also at least as suitable for home defense as a shotgun. The small, lightweight .223 bullet is less likely to penetrate interior walls than large buckshot or even typical handgun bullets. Contrary to popular belief, buckshot pellets don’t spread appreciably at normal house ranges and they continue to function very much like a large mass.
So why did the U.S. Army adopt this supremely lethal killing device? 1. The rifle and ammunition weighed less, so the soldier could carry more in the standard loadout; 2. it cost less than the 7.62 NATO cartridge and M14 rifle. The Army was only looking for a rifle/cartridge combination that would be as effective as the standard rifle and cartridge. The .223 is the least powerful cartridge adopted by the Army since the black powder days and it depends on high velocity to be effective. The debate still rages over whether the .223 is really suitable for modern combat and most special operations units rely on other calibers. The Armalite rifle chambered for .458 SOCOM is such a caliber.
Note: Only automatic firearms manufactured since May 19, 1986 are illegal for private citizens to own (the government doesn’t care whether the owner fires it or not). Machine guns manufactured and registered prior to that date are transferable, meaning they can be owned, purchased and sold. There is at least one privately owned GE electric Minigun in the U.S.
You’re probably right that there’s about zero chance for the Assault Weapons Ban of 2018 to be enacted. But that’s really a good thing.
First and foremost, AWB 2018 does nothing about the estimated 18 to 20 million of such firearms already owned. They can be possessed and transferred just like any other regular firearm. Second, if it looked like the AWB 2018 might even make it out of committee, the factories would kick into overdrive and the demand would skyrocket. Even people who don’t really want one will be buying them. Why? After the prohibition on new machine guns went into effect in 1986, the values of existing machine guns went through the roof. A Smith & Wesson Model 76 that I had considered buying in the mid-1970s for less than $150 brand-new now goes for $13,000 or more. I wish I had gone ahead and made the buy, paid the transfer tax and wrapped the thing in cosmoline; I could buy my son a new car. So the net effect of the AWB 2018 would be to vastly increase the number of banned weapons that are unaffected. Good job!
Next, AWB 2018 is so poorly written, by people who know so little about guns, that it is, quite frankly, a joke. Gun owners will be laughing about it for years. It includes howlers such as the exact same rifle being banned in one configuration and exempted in another. It includes guns chambered only in .22 long rifle that happen to look like the evil black gun but best suited for punching holes in paper or plinking at tin cans while not only exempting, but not mentioning at all, a very powerful semi-automatic battle rifle. Since it’s in our best interests to let the ban fans look stupid, I am not going to mention any specifics.
High-capacity magazines are worth another chuckle or two. Magazines don’t have serial number; can be sold through the mail; don’t involve any paperwork other than signing the charge slip. There are uncounted millions of them in civilian hands now and sales would only increase in advance of a ban. Besides the benefits of a ban on high-capacity magazines would be of interest only to a moron. Adam Lanza was actually able to reload magazines at Sandy Hook; Elliot Rodger had three restricted capacity pistols when he took his drive around Isla Vista. He also had a number of restricted-capacity magazines in his car.
So, yeah, the Assault Weapons Ban is pretty worthless. If anyone calls this travesty “commonsense,” they either don’t understand the meaning of common sense or they don’t have any.