CLAIM: During the State of the Union Address President Joe Biden claimed mass shootings tripled after the “assault weapons” ban expired.
VERDICT: Misleading/Mostly False.
Biden said, “In the ten years the ban was law, mass shootings went down. After we let it expire, in a Republican administration, mass shootings tripled.”
It should be noted that Biden has made this claim before, in one form or another, following a high-profile shooting.
He did so on May 24, 2022, following the Uvalde elementary school attack. The Washington Post quoted him saying, “When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down. When the law expired, mass shootings tripled.”
Ironically, the Post also called Biden’s claim into question:
Biden claimed that mass shooting deaths tripled after the law expired. He appears to be relying on a study of mass shooting data from 1981 to 2017, published in 2019 in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery by a team led by Charles DiMaggio, a professor of surgery at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. That group found that an assault weapons ban would have prevented 314 out of 448, or 70 percent, of the mass shooting deaths during the years when the ban was not in effect. But the data used in that study has come under attack by some analysts.
…The new mass-shooting database shows that there were 31 mass shootings in the decade before the 1994 law, 31 in the 10 years the law was in force (Sept. 13, 1994 to Sept. 12, 2004) and 47 in the 10 years after it expired. As noted, some of that increase stems from population growth.
Breitbart News reported that the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice (NIJ) released a report in 2004, as the “assault weapons” ban was coming to an end. The information in that study dovetails perfectly with the Post’s observation, inasmuch as the NIJ researchers could not credit the “assault weapons” ban with any of the reductions in crime or shootings which were sporadically reported elsewhere.
The Washington Times quoted University of Pennsylvania professor Christopher Koper, author of the NIJ report, saying, “We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”
The NIJ report continued, “The ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”
The NIJ report put matters into perspective by pointing out that “assault weapons” were “rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.”
Biden’s claim about mass shootings tripling and the sunset of the ban being causal is misleading, because no reliable connection between the end of the ban and an increase in shootings has been made.
Biden’s claim is also mostly false because the information from sources like the NIJ explicitly indicates the “assault weapons” ban cannot be credited with a drop in gun violence to begin with.
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio and a Turning Point USA Ambassador. AWR Hawkins holds a Ph.D. in Military History, with a focus on the Vietnam War (brown water navy), U.S. Navy since Inception, the Civil War, and Early Modern Europe. Follow him on Instagram: @awr_hawkins. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.