A Washington Post column calling for the renewal of a federal “assault weapons” ban makes it clear the reporter is unaware that “assault weapons” were legal to purchase, own, and use while the ban was in place.
The era of the “assault weapons” ban is often presented as the good ol’ days for Democrats. The years were 1994-2004, the early part of which occurred when a Democrat-run Congress could pass gun control with the assurance that President Bill Clinton (D) would sign it into law. And just hours after the heinous attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, various Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, pushed to bring back the “assault weapons” ban once more.
On February 15 the push was joined by Washington Post reporter Christopher Ingraham, who writes that “easy-to-obtain assault weapons … [were] once banned under U.S. law.” And he quoted University of Massachusetts professor Louis Klaveras to assure us that we “would see drastic reductions in … gun massacres” if the ban were put back in place.
Later in the article, after stressing that the “assault weapons” ban covered “high capacity” magazines too, Ingraham wrote, “The killers in recent incidents like Las Vegas, Orlando and Sutherland Springs were each able to walk into a gun shop in the days and months before their attacks, and legally purchase their assault weapons and magazines after passing a standard background check. Under an assault weapons ban, that wouldn’t be possible.”
What Ingraham overlooks is the fact that it was 100 percent legal to buy an AR-15 and a “high capacity” magazine during the “assault weapons” ban, the only difference between buying pre and post-ban was the price.
For example, even though “high capacity” magazines were banned, the ban did not impact “high capacity” magazines that were already in circulation. Therefore, the ban only served to limit the supply, thereby magnifying the demand and driving up the price.
As for AR-15s, you could still buy one, it simply could not have a flash hider, a collapsible stock, a thumbhole stock, and numerous other cosmetic features and/or accessories. Therefore, a Bushmaster AR-15 sold during the “assault weapons” ban is bulkier than the Bushmaster sold today, but it is nonetheless an AR-15. And it shipped with a 10-round magazine, versus a 30-round one, but that deficiency could be defeated by buying a 30-round one that was already in circulation or by taping two 10-round magazines together for quick and easy switch out.
In other words, the Democrats’ gun control glory days were not that glorious.
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News, the host of the Breitbart podcast Bullets with AWR Hawkins, 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. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.