Vox: Empirical Evidence Does Not Support Success Claims for ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 17: Mercedes Kent joins other people after a school shooting that killed 17 to protest against guns on the steps of the Broward County Federal courthouse on February 17, 2018 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Earlier this week former student Nikolas Cruz opened fire with a …
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

While many push an “assault weapons” ban as a solution to gun crime, Vox points out that empirical evidence does not support the push.

In fact, Vox shows that “studies on assault weapons bans have generally ranged from inconclusive to unfavorable toward a ban.”

Moreover, it approaches the push for a ban by noting that the kind of crimes it is intended to stop—mass public attacks—are relatively infrequent to begin with. So even if the ban worked, it would only be impacting a small fraction of overall crime in America.

Vox explains, “Mass shooting deaths make up less than 4 percent of gun homicides in the U.S., while shootings with rifles, including assault weapons, make up less than 3 percent. So pushing assault weapons out of circulation wouldn’t have a big impact on overall gun violence in America, even if it has an outsize impact on some particularly awful tragedies.”

Vox does make one assumption that needs to be checked—namely, that the October 1, 2017, Las Vegas attack would not have been so heinous if an “assault weapons” ban had been in place. They suggest such a ban would have forced the gunman to use a handgun instead of AR-15-style rifles, thereby reducing the gunman’s success at such long distances. However, Vox’s suggestion overlooks the fact that the 1994-2004 “assault weapons” ban did not prohibit the purchase or purchase of “assault weapons.” Any suggestion that it did is not accurate.

The Washington Post made a similar assumption the day after the Parkland school shooting by describing AR-15-style rifles as “easy-to-obtain assault weapons … [which were] once banned under U.S. law.”

In reality, the federal “assault weapons” ban only banned cosmetic features that Democrats equated with such weapons. Therefore, you could not buy a AR-15 with a flash hider but you could legally buy an AR-15 without one. You could not buy an AK-47 with a collapsible stock but you could legally buy an AK-47 without one.

The “assault weapons” ban would have done nothing to prevent or even hinder a mass shooting in which an AR or AK-style rifle was used.

To be fair, Vox quoted researcher Christoper Koper, who noted, “Relatively cosmetic changes, such as removing a flash hider or bayonet mount, were thus sufficient to transform a banned weapon into a legal substitute. In this sense, the law is perhaps best understood not as a gun ban but as a law that restricted weapon accessories.”

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 awrhawkins@breitbart.com. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.