Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden used a New York Times op-ed to inaccurately claim the 1994-2004 “assault weapons” ban was successful.
Biden wrote about working with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to secure a ban on “assault weapons,” which included a ban on “high-capacity” magazines. He described both aspects of the ban as “gun safety reforms [that] made our nation demonstrably more secure.”
He opined that the ban was “the last meaningful gun legislation … [signed] into law before the N.R.A. and the gun manufacturers put the Republican Party in a headlock,” and he pledged to renew the ban if elected to the presidency.
Biden did not mention the Department of Justice’s Institute of Justice (NIJ) report explaining the ban’s impact on crime was negligible at best.
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.”
Biden’s op-ed also overlooks the fact that the 1994-2004 federal ban did not actually ban “assault weapons.” Rather, it banned cosmetic features of certain guns. It was legal to buy an AR-15 throughout the ban’s tenure, but it was simply forbidden to buy an AR-15 with a flash hider or collapsible stock, just as it was illegal to buy an AK-style rifle with a thumbhole stock.
It was also legal to buy “high-capacity” magazines as long as those magazines had been manufactured before the ban began.
Despite these facts, Biden wrote, “The 1994 assault weapons and high-capacity magazines bans worked.”
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. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.