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The Assault Weapons Ban: How Silly Was It?
Pajamas Media ^ | 12/19/2012 | Bob Owens

Posted on 12/19/2012 8:26:52 AM PST by SeekAndFind

(President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that he is “actively supporting” a proposal to reinstate a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” In addition, he supports a ban on the sale of firearms from one person to another without federal involvement which gun-control groups have dubbed a “gun show loophole,” and a ban on standard-capacity magazines for rifles, pistols, and shotguns. Instead, he would impose an arbitrarily determined ten-round limit to magazines.

California Democrat Dianne Feinstein — who carried a concealed weapons permit while calling for disarming American citizens — is once again promising to introduce an “assault weapons” ban in the U.S. Senate. New York Senator Chuck Schumer also hoped to push for the ban.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen doubts the effectiveness of such “knee jerk” decisions, and columnist Charles Krauthammer noted that the last attempt had “no appreciable influence on gun violence or the lethality of individual attacks.”

Which camp is right?

The following article is a reposting of a July 6, 2011 two-part article detailing the dramatic failure of the assault weapons ban.)


U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, February 26, 2009:

As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons.

The fabled “assault weapons ban.”

Few laws ever passed have been as idolized — and misunderstood — as Title XI of the Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Subtitle A (the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act).

To listen to the Obama administration, the media, or the nominated head of the ATF spin it, the ban made it illegal to purchase machine guns, and outlawed the ownership or use of high-capacity magazines, saving billions, perhaps trillions, of lives.

That mischaracterization is as wrong as it is laughable. The law had nothing to do with machine guns and real military-issue assault rifles, and did nothing to measurably impact violent crime.

The purpose of the law was to ban the sale and importation of certain semi-automatic (one bullet fired per trigger pull) firearms by name, and a wider group of firearms that had an arbitrarily selected list of largely cosmetic features. These features did not affect the rate of fire, accuracy, or range of the firearms impacted. Firearms were determined to be “assault weapons” – a term that was created by the law itself – if it had two or more of the following features:

Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and two or more of the following:

  1. Folding or telescoping stock
  2. Pistol grip
  3. Bayonet mount
  4. Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
  5. Grenade launcher (more precisely, a muzzle device which enables the launching or firing of rifle grenades)

Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and two or more of the following:

  1. Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip
  2. Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, handgrip, or suppressor
  3. Barrel shroud that can be used as a hand-hold
  4. Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more
  5. A semi-automatic version of an automatic firearm

Semi-automatic shotguns with two or more of the following:

  1. Folding or telescoping stock
  2. Pistol grip
  3. Fixed capacity of more than 5 rounds
  4. Detachable magazine

It was a law passed by lawmakers who desired to “do something,” but who didn’t have the expertise or intelligence to pass a law with any real meaning or measurable impact. It resulted in a 10-year timeframe where this …

… was an “assault weapon,” but this …

… was not.

These rifles are identical in every regard except that the rifle on the top has a small bit of metal under the front sight to which a bayonet could attach, and a small vented tube on the end of the barrel that redirects unburned gases.

Both are AR-15-pattern rifles that came off the same assembly line, fire the exact same ammunition, and use the same magazines.

The former was criminalized for ultimately absurd reasons, so that lawmakers could claim they were doing something about gun violence. Both were legal to sell, buy, and possess during the life of the ban.

The story was the same for almost every weapon impacted by the law. The offending cosmetics were removed, and the same weapon was sold under a different model number for the duration of the ban — while the “pre-ban” versions became items of interest and demand merely because of the additional features.

Instead of having having an impact on the reduction of gun crime, the “assault weapon ban” instead became a near-comical example of the law of unintended consequences. Prior to the introduction of the legislation, demand for the firearms that became the subject of the ban was relatively light. The public’s interest was piqued, and sales skyrocketed, directly as a result of the law. These firearms had almost no statistical representation in crimes (which the National Institute of Justice admitted two years later), and interest in them grew both before the ban and after it was enacted. One of the unintended consequences of the law was that these firearms that had had a small role at the fringes of the marketplace were suddenly desired by millions.

The assault weapons ban didn’t reduce the number of military-style semi-automatic firearms. It greatly increased their numbers, their public acceptance, and had the effect of mainstreaming them, “pre-ban” rifles and cosmetically de-enhanced “post-ban” rifles alike. Thanks to the “ban,” AR-15 pattern rifles are now among the most popular rifles in America, and have been mainstreamed even among the change-resistant hunting fraternity as “modern sporting rifles.”

So if the ten-year ban period did not see a substantial reduction in gun crimes committed with the kind of firearms banned, and the expiration of the law in 2004 did not result in a massive upswing in violence even after these firearms achieved mainstream popularity and acceptance, why would the Obama administration be so strongly in favor of advocating for a renewal of the ban?

That is something we hope to resolve in Part 2.


The Washington Post, May 23, 2011:

On March 30, the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, Jim Brady, who sustained a debilitating head wound in the attack, and his wife, Sarah, came to Capitol Hill to push for a ban on the controversial “large magazines.” Brady, for whom the law requiring background checks on handgun purchasers is named, then met with White House press secretary Jay Carney. During the meeting, President Obama dropped in and, according to Sarah Brady, brought up the issue of gun control: “to fill us in that it was very much on his agenda,” she said.

“I just want you to know that we are working on it,” Brady recalled the president telling them. “We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”

In every practical respect, the firearms-related provisions of the “assault weapons ban” were an objective failure. But absurd restrictions on firearms weren’t the only part of that legislation that passed only to succumb to an outcome quite different than it’s anti-gun progenitors had in mind.

Along with creating the term “assault weapon,” this Clinton-era law also created the similarly arbitrary term “high-capacity magazine.”

A detachable magazine is a container that holds cartridges for a given firearm, and the number of cartridges typically varied with the size and the purpose of the weapon at hand and the size of the cartridge it fired. Small turn-of-the-century handguns typically carried magazines of just 6-7 cartridges. The standard magazine capacity of many pistols that became popular in the 1980s was 15 rounds or more. The standard capacity of military grade rifles and carbines was 20-30 rounds. As time progressed, firearm designers were finding ways to put a larger number of cartridges in the magazines of their weapons.

When legislators decided that the “assault weapons ban” should also include a restriction on the number of cartridges that any given magazine could hold, they declared that any magazine that held a greater amount of cartridges was a “high capacity” magazine. It didn’t matter to them that many of the firearms in question had as their standard capacity magazines with round counts from 13-30 rounds or more, or that some of these firearms had had such a capacity since before the congressmen and congresswomen writing the law were born.

Congress arbitrarily decided that 10 rounds was “enough” for American citizens, and included provisions that once the law went into effect, any magazine manufactured after the date the law went into effect that had more than ten rounds would be illegal for anything other than law enforcement use.

Like the firearms provisions of the bill, these magazine provisions also had unintended consequences.

As it turns out, firearms magazines are both typically very robust and reliable in design, and incredibly easy to mass manufacture. Once made, they last indefinitely.

Between the time Congress started signaling that they would create a magazine capacity restriction and the implementation of the law, factories worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week churning out millions of nothing but high-capacity magazines, which were stockpiled by manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and retailers in massive warehouses.

As a result, “high capacity magazines” for most common firearms were freely available throughout the life of the ban. As e-commerce came into early maturity during this time period, many high-capacity magazines were more available than they had been before the ban was signed into law.


Congress had neglected to make the possession or sale of high-capacity magazines illegal, and only outlawed the manufacture of new magazines.

The law had another unforeseen result. As companies looked to introduce new models of pistols, they determined that if they were going to be forced to make pistols limited to a magazine capacity of just 10 rounds, it would be advantageous for them to make these new pistols as small as possible for the concealed carry market. The Glock 26 and Kahr K9 were introduced the following year, and were among the first of a new breed of powerful, ultra-concealable handguns known as “subcompacts.” Similar designs from other companies quickly followed.

Objectively, based purely on the numbers, the assault weapons ban increased both the number of and public acceptance of semi-automatic, military-style rifles, and created a new class of powerful, concealable handguns.

Put another way, the assault weapons ban not only put more guns into the market, it encouraged the development of smaller, more powerful, semi-automatic firearms.

Why, then, would the Obama administration want to reintroduce the ban?

Rest assured, if the administration could find broad support for a reinstatement of the expired ban, it would do everything in its power to fix the mistakes of the past.

Instead of banning a list of guns by name or arbitrary cosmetic features or banning just the manufacture of magazines, they would attempt to model their ban on some of the more restrictive state bans, such as those in California, Maryland, and New York, which would no doubt result in more unintended (and sometimes unbearably cute) consequences.

Attempting to impose such a restrictive and prohibitionist law is far harder today in a nation where judicial interpretations favoring individual gun rights are ascendant. It would take a dramatic and drastic turn of events to undermine the growing gun rights movement and to generate the sort of popular support for more national gun control laws.

Such firearms would have to be used, repeatedly and with great affect, to generate massive levels of violence and the media furor needed to revive a flagging gun control movement. It would almost take a massive covert operation delivering thousands of weapons to violent felons to make this even potentially viable.

Luckily, we all know that can’t happen here.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: 1994; assaultweapons; awb; banglist; biden; findswine; guncontrol; guns; obama; secondamendment
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1 posted on 12/19/2012 8:26:59 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
Banning assault weapons except for the military is like banning Pixies or legislating homosexual marriege...

...there just ain’t no such animals.

2 posted on 12/19/2012 8:30:03 AM PST by Happy Rain (Which fires first? The gun or the 2nd Amendment haters?)
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To: SeekAndFind
The Assault Weapons Ban: How Silly Was It? (Revisiting the incompetent law Obama wants reinstated)

"INCOMPETENT", "0bama" - these two naturally go together.

3 posted on 12/19/2012 8:34:13 AM PST by The Sons of Liberty (America 2012 - What Would Our Forefathers Do?)
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To: SeekAndFind

Why the focus on bayonets? It seems so utterly insane to me. I’d rather someone come at me with a bayonetted plugged rifle a million times than a handgun once.

4 posted on 12/19/2012 8:39:16 AM PST by Tublecane
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To: SeekAndFind

The comprehensive approach now being considered; which will include mental health and hopefully gun free zones will cause problems for legislation.

Obama will be running afoul of civil rights not connected with guns.

However, when legilation fails (i hope), Obama will simply issue an executive order and be done with it.

5 posted on 12/19/2012 8:41:11 AM PST by txnativegop (Fed up with zealots)
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To: SeekAndFind
a proposal to reinstate a ban on so-called “assault weapons.”

An "assault" weapon will be redefined as the most popular weapon which is currently legal until all weapons are gone.

6 posted on 12/19/2012 8:44:15 AM PST by oldbrowser (Put Obama in check, now.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Just like the 1994 ban, “possession” means possession of an assault weapon obtained by one of the prohibited means “transfer”/ “sale” after the date of the ban.

Existing “assault weapons” in private hands would be grandfathered in. Even Feinstein and Obama are not stupid enough to try and confiscate 25 million assault weapons in private hands. Biden might be stupid enough to try.

Worked so well in Canada(long gun registry) /sarc

7 posted on 12/19/2012 8:44:42 AM PST by TurboZamboni (Looting the future to bribe the present)
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8 posted on 12/19/2012 8:47:13 AM PST by PMAS (All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing)
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To: Tublecane

They’re not plugged.

9 posted on 12/19/2012 8:49:42 AM PST by IMR 4350
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To: SeekAndFind

Whenever someone says they want to limit magazines or clips to 10 rounds, I ask “so, 10 dead children is OK, it’s just 20 that bothers you?”

10 posted on 12/19/2012 8:59:16 AM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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To: SeekAndFind

for later

11 posted on 12/19/2012 9:06:08 AM PST by corlorde (forWARD of the state)
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To: TurboZamboni

This just makes me supremely happy that I have been uber-diligent in keeping and logging every receipt for magazines weapons, etc. Even for gun shows. When they enact it, you’ll need them.

12 posted on 12/19/2012 9:08:34 AM PST by Gaffer
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To: SeekAndFind

Of the several posts I respond to on this subject all contain these two assertions which should be considered in any discussion on this subject..

1st the weapon used by this kid could not be used in regular hunting it’s a 22.3 caliber. 2nd this “target rifle” met the very restrictive rifle ownership requirement of Connecticut and hardly could be considered an “assult” rifle.

Instead we’re getting too many responses which lapse into vacuity. Judgements on the mother, who been mis-reported about several times. Assumptions on how the kid obtained these guns, judgements about the perp and his “reasoning” for his actions. All of which we don’t know and cannot trust MSM to report the facts surrounding this sad issue. Until that is done.

Any assertion about this maddness including They were killed to save them from the Mayan end of civilization which will occur on December 21st 2012 is worthy of consideration...


13 posted on 12/19/2012 9:08:55 AM PST by mosesdapoet ("A voice crying in the wilderness make streight for the way of the Lord")
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To: SeekAndFind

Incompetent Obama still removing rights.

14 posted on 12/19/2012 9:09:43 AM PST by Vaduz
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To: Gaffer

my mags were all lost in a barrel attempt over Niagra Falls.

15 posted on 12/19/2012 9:10:51 AM PST by TurboZamboni (Looting the future to bribe the present)
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To: SeekAndFind

ping assault weapon ban?

16 posted on 12/19/2012 9:10:51 AM PST by TNoldman (AN AMERICAN FOR A MUSLIM/BHO FREE AMERICA.)
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To: Tublecane

HAH, you’ve never seen anyone as dangerous as I am with a bayonet! I don’t even bother with bullets! I can slice’em and dice’em with phenomenal speed; I’m the Jackie Chan of Bayonet warfare; I use a special ginsu bayonet with cross-cut blade! I practiced my techniques at a Sushi restaurant; I had the place cleared out in less than 2 minutes!

I learned my bayonet techniques from a midget South Vietnamese war vet who’s unit ran out of bullets in 1966; he fought on for three years with nothing more than his bayonet. He almost took Hanoi twice! He re-upped for the Iraq invasion and single handidly neutralized an entire Iragi Republican Guard unit. Now he fights with the Syrian Rebels and has been credited with taking out an entire regiment of Syrian Tanks!

Beware the Bayonet! Its a weapon of mass destruction!

17 posted on 12/19/2012 9:34:53 AM PST by Rich21IE
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To: IMR 4350

Obviously, but you’re not getting my point. I stipulated that the barrel be pouted to focus on the bayonet specifically. Why ban bayonets when handguns, for instance, are much worse? If there isn’t a reason to ban bayonetable rifle features without regard to the rifle’s assaultiness, or whatever it is that makes certain guns seem worth banning, then there’s no reason to ban bayonets at all.

All they do, really, is turn rifles into a kind of sword, and last time I checked swords are legal. What is it about adding a knife onto a rifle that interests the government? When was the last time a vicious bayonetting made national headlines? I submit that there is no reason whatsoever. Being able to weld some contraption onto a rifle to feed more rounds without having to reload or tampering with it to render it more fully automatic, those at least I understand.

Not satisfied to ban things most people agree aren’t covered by the 2nd amendment, Congress goes nutty with banning such add-ons—add-ons being easily enough argued into being extraneous to 2nd amendment concerns—until any old extra thing is somehow evil. The reductio ad absurdum of the add-on asterisk to the 2nd amendment is the ban on bayonetable features. It is simply crazy. Where is the anti-bayonet lobby? It doesn’t exist.

18 posted on 12/19/2012 9:49:15 AM PST by Tublecane
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To: mosesdapoet

You mention hunting. Why? I never understand what that has to do with subject at all. So some guns ate more ir less useful tot hunting, so what? What does that have to do with what should be legal or illegal? Aside from the fact that hunters vote, I mean.

19 posted on 12/19/2012 9:53:26 AM PST by Tublecane
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To: mosesdapoet

You mention hunting. Why? I never understand what that has to do with the subject at all. So some guns are more or less useful for hunting, so what? What does that have to do with what should be legal or illegal? Aside from the fact that hunters vote, I mean.

20 posted on 12/19/2012 9:54:01 AM PST by Tublecane
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