NRA takes aim at "assault weapon lie"

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

It’s no secret that the Biden administration has made a new assault weapon ban a top priority. President Joe Biden ran on such a ban and he’s trying to fulfill that campaign promise.


He’s meeting resistance, though, which shouldn’t be surprising.

Yet as the NRA’s America’s 1st Freedom points out, it’s all premised on a lie.

As this magazine was headed to print, the president had most recently made this claim while giving a commencement speech at Howard University. While many commencement speakers attempt to give the recent graduates motivation as they advance in their professional lives, Biden instead used the opportunity to stump for more gun control, specifically for a ban on “assault weapons.”

Biden keeps returning to this talking point because it worked once for him in the past. During the crime wave of the 1980s to early 1990s, gun-control advocates successfully used American’s fears about crime and confusion about so-called “assault weapons” to get the federal ban passed in 1994. With violent crime surging once again and an unwillingness to hold criminals accountable for the crimes they commit, Biden is focused anew on convincing the public that if we just banned so-called “assault weapons,” America’s crime problems would cease.

But, that’s a blatant lie.

The overwhelming majority of firearm-related homicides are committed using handguns. According to 2021 FBI crime statistics, throughout the U.S., almost 13 times as many murders were listed as having been committed with a handgun than with a rifle of any kind. In fact, more murders were listed as having been committed with “Personal weapons (hands/fists/feet/etc.)” than rifles of any kind. And, more than twice as many murders were committed with knives than rifles of any kind.


Further, if one were to look back during the era of the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban, crime was starting to trend downward prior to the law taking effect. Lasting only a decade, the ban sunset, and guess what happened with that trend?

It continued to decrease.

If the assault weapon ban were the reason for the decline, as proponents like Biden claim, then why didn’t it start trending long ago?

“But what about mass shootings?”

Mass shootings happen regardless of what firearms are available. While a lot of them seem to involve so-called assault weapons these days, let’s not forget that if you take those off the table, you still will have mass shootings.

The most deadly school shooting on American soil was at Virginia Tech, where the killer used two handguns to slaughter 32 innocent people. He didn’t need an AR-15.

In fact, I’d argue that the prevalence of mass shootings involving AR-15s is a direct result of the media coverage of the rifle and its use in mass shootings. Whereas it used to be one weapon used, a lot of people see these reports and figure they have to have a so-called assault weapon to commit such an atrocity.

Take those off the table, though, and they’ll just use handguns, shotguns, other rifles, or whatever they think will work.


You’re not accomplishing anything except infringing on our rights.

What’s more, this isn’t exactly hard to see. We know that plenty of mass shooters have used other firearms. There’s no reason to believe that a new assault weapon ban will do anything in that regard. The White House has the exact same information I have, if not more, showing this to be true.

So yeah, this whole assault weapon ban push is predicated on a lie.

What else is new, though?

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