Fact checking KJP's defense of assault weapon ban

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

For a decade, we had an assault weapon ban on the books. It wasn’t much of a ban–it only barred the sale of new firearms and only those with a certain number of certain features. Those with fewer “evil features” were still bought and sold without any problem.


Yet anti-gunners routinely want to see a new assault weapon ban. Current proposals are much more restrictive, of course, but they somehow think they can get it by simply acting like it’s the old ban.

The problem is that the old ban didn’t do much.

However, no one told White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that.

Is she right?

Well, sort of.

Sure, gun violence went down during the assault weapon ban and it didn’t go back up until after it sunset.

It’s what isn’t mentioned here, though, that’s the big story.

You see, the assault weapon ban was enacted in 1994. However, the homicide rate was already in decline before its passage. While it did decline during the decade the ban was in effect, it also continued to decline after the sunset.

Yes, the homicide rate went up after it sunset, but not for more than two decades afterward.


What Jean-Pierre failed to mention was all the other stuff, which many may not be familiar with but I’m quite sure she or someone else in the White House is, and that’s where I have a problem.

The “benefits” of the assault weapon ban weren’t due to the assault weapon ban. They were already in motion and continued until well after the ban went away. In fact, even the federal government’s own report notes that the ban actually accomplished nothing.

Further, one of the unintended consequences of the previous assault weapon ban was to make the AR-15 the most popular rifle in the nation. People want things more when they’re told they shouldn’t have them, and what else was the ban but a big red sign? People bought the guns in droves, then found out they were pretty awesome, and continued to buy them after the ban sunset.

If anything, the ban helped the proliferation of such firearms. It’s unlikely to do anything to curtail the sale of them a second time around.

Yet what bothers me the most is the framing of these “facts.” Though technically true, they’re presented in a way that seems designed to mislead many who aren’t familiar with the politics surrounding guns. As presented, they’re false, and I honestly believe Jean-Pierre knows them to be false, meaning they were a lie.


I’m sure many of the “fact-checkers” will ignore that little tidbit, of course. They don’t actually care about checking the White House all that much. They do it, but not quite the same as they do when the other side is in there.

Jean-Pierre appears to have purposefully misrepresented the facts regarding the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban so as to convince people it did things it never actually did and worked far better than it actually worked. I know lying and politics go hand-in-hand, but this is something else.

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