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(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)
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By Jonathan Miltimore

Do something.

This is a response—and perhaps a natural one—to a human tragedy or crisis. We saw this response in the wake of 9/11. We saw it during the Covid-19 pandemic. And we’re seeing it again following three mass shootings—in Buffalo, New York, Uvalde, Texas, and Tulsa Oklahoma—that claimed the lives of more than 30 innocent people, including small children.

In this case, the “something” is gun control. In Canada—where no attack even occurred—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the introduction of legislation that would freeze handgun ownership across the country.

“What this means is that it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada,” Trudeau said in a press conference.

In the United States, the rhetoric has tended to be more heated but also vague, though some specific proposals have emerged.

Over the weekend, Vice President Kamala Harris called for an all-out ban of “assault weapons.”

“We know what works on this. It includes, let’s have an assault weapons ban,” Harris told reporters in Buffalo after attending the funeral of a victim.

On Thursday, President Joe Biden, while speaking from the White House before a candlelit backdrop, called on Congress to pass new gun control legislation, including a ban on assault weapons.

“How much more carnage are we willing to accept?” Biden asked.

There are numerous problems with this proposal, starting with the sticky question of defining what an “assault weapon” is.

Assault rifles, which by definition are capable of selective fire, are already banned under the National Firearms Act of 1934. The vague phrase “assault weapon” is basically a tautology—by definition, any weapon can be used to assault someone—and virtually useless. The term might be effective politically, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, the guns politicians choose to define as “assault weapons” typically “are no more dangerous than others that are not specified.”

We know this because the US had a ban on “assault weapons” as recently as 2004, something gun control supporters recently pointed out on Twitter.

“We had an assault weapon ban for 10 years: 1994-2004,” said Dr. Joanne Freeman, a historian at Yale University. “The world didn’t end. People kept their (other) guns. They bought new guns. It was hardly an attack on gun ownership.”

The Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994 targeted firearms deemed “useful in military and criminal applications but unnecessary in shooting sports or self-defense.”

Freeman is right that the ban lasted a decade before expiring on September 13, 2004. She’s also right that the world “didn’t end” and Americans continued to use and purchase other types of firearms.

 

What Freeman didn’t bring up was the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the government’s Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Nearly two decades ago the Department of Justice funded a study to analyze this very topic, and it concluded that the assault weapon prohibition had “mixed” results.

Researchers noted there was a decline in crimes committed with firearms classified as assault weapons, but noted “the decline in AW use was offset throughout at least the late 1990s by steady or rising use of other guns.”

In other words, there was a decline in crimes committed with firearms that were banned, but the drop was replaced by crimes committed with other types of firearms that were not banned.

While gun violence overall fell in the US during this period—just like many other countries around the world—the decline continued even after the Federal Assault Weapons Ban ended in 2004. Authors of the government-funded study plainly stated “we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence” and any future reduction in gun violence as a result of the ban was likely “to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”

One might contend that this is just one study. No study is irrefutable, after all, even ones commissioned by the Justice Department. However, other studies since then have yielded similar conclusions.

A RAND review of gun control studies, which was updated in 2020, concluded there’s “inconclusive evidence for the effect of assault weapon bans on mass shootings.” Research published in Criminology & Public Policy the same year (2020) concluded that bans on assault weapons “do not seem to be associated with the incidence of fatal mass shootings.”

President Biden has claimed the 1994 crime bill he helped pass “brought down these mass killings,” but fact checkers have contested these claims based on this evidence and much more.

It’s unlikely the White House has enough votes to pass a second ban on certain semi-automatic firearms, but it’s far from impossible in an environment in which many Americans—even gun enthusiasts and Second Amendment supporters—are increasingly asking politicians to “do something.”

Unfortunately, when people say “do something” they tend to mean “pass sweeping legislation that infringes on the civil liberties of others.” Such thinking spawned the super-state that sprang forth in the War on Terror following the 9/11 attacks. It also produced government lockdowns during the pandemic, the worst and longest depression in American history, and a host of other disasters.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that the impulse to use collective force to “do something” in the wake of a tragedy or crisis has created far more problems than it has solved.

The economic historian Robert Higgs has noted that the most sprawling encroachments of freedom in history spawned during crises and tragedies; they have given rise to tyrants from Lenin to Mao and beyond. Even when powers are relinquished by government, they are rarely relinquished completely (a phenomenon Higgs describes as the Ratchet Effect).

“When [crises occur] … governments almost certainly will gain new powers over economic and social affairs,” wrote Higgs. “For those who cherish individual liberty and a free society, the prospect is deeply disheartening.”

As we mourn the victims in Buffalo, Uvalde, and Tulsa, we’d do well to remember that one true moral purpose of government is to protect individual rights, and any attempt to deprive humans of these rights for “a greater good” is a perversion of the law.

 

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has been the subject of articles in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Star Tribune.

Bylines: Newsweek, The Washington Times, MSN.com, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Caller, The Federalist, the Epoch Times.

This article was originally published on FEE.org. Read the original article.

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47 COMMENTS

    • Speaking of caring, I am more than a little miffed.

      It appears that the Democrats have hired a professional propagandist, James Goldston a former president of ABC News, to make the Jan 6 partisan witch hunt appear “..raw enough so that skeptical journalists will find the material fresh, and chew over the disclosures in future coverage.”

      THEY SHOULD HAVE HIRED ME!

      I have been toiling for them here and other places delivering some of the best agitprop east of the Mississippi. What I deliver is an art form of finely blended lies, misdirection, and disinformation from all their Pravda sites, NYY, WaPo, Salon, Huff-Post, Snopes, Politifact, Politico, The Guardian, Associated Press, and anything Media Matters.

      Have I not earned my reputation as a salacious belligerent regurgitator of the most heinous leftist lies?

      Am I not considered a sickly reprehensible trollop of indefensible agitprops, falsehoods, and propaganda?

      Am I not a reliable filcher of the truth for the Marxist leftists?

      That should have been me, “producing” the Jan 6th staged performance.. Miner49er!

        • “Why is whiner suddenly making sense?🤔”

          Two possibilities:
          – Whiner’s screen name was borrowed by someone other than the person we recognize as Whiner

          – Whiner has all along been truly “trolling”, goofing on the leftist movement, entertaining self

        • Oh, Sam, I can absolutely GUARANTEE that MinorIQ is “entertaining self”. That would be at his daily circle jerk with dacian the stupid, our nameless, brainless, d***less troll, and jsled. Unfortunately for them, they all suffer from Leftist//fascist disease: they are barely able to entertain themselves, but incapable of producing results. Fortunate offshoot is that they will not be able to further taint the gene pool by reproducing. Every dark cloud; silver lining, and all that.

      • Sorry, your BS is a day late and very stale. And, you aren’t as good at making up facts and then trying to not contradict them in the next post. Just stick to the script you were sent.

    • RGP,

      And, yet, SINCE then, ARs have become cheaper, better, and more ubiquitous. Isn’t capitalism wonderful!!!

      Remove suppressors from the execrable 1934 act, and you’ll see some REALLY kick-ass innovation!

      There is a great story of industrial progress, human ingenuity, the beneficial effects of capitalism, all inherent in the last half-century of progress in the firearms industry. I am looking forward to seeing what the industry does with however long I have before I ‘shuffle off this mortal coil’. Expecting great things.

  1. Canada punished its entire population for a crime that happened in America. Any of you guys that still think the left hasn’t sold out to fascism? Burn and machine gun a whole village because there might be a resistance fighter hiding there.

    Classic fascism.

    • Ronald Reagan made a huge mistake and was then betrayed by the Democrats for reaching across the aisle;

      In an interview on Breitbart News’ satellite radio show, Kelli Ward said: “In 1986, Ronald Reagan — great president, amazing conservative, lover of liberty and of America — granted amnesty;

      Ed Rollins(who served in the White House as an aide to Reagan and who was national director of Reagan’s 1984 re-election campaign), who is helping me with my campaign, told me that President Reagan’s biggest regret as president was granting amnesty and then trusting Congress to deliver on border security.”

  2. Republican Ronald Reagan was in favor of the AWB, Reagan thought it was prudent and reasonable.

    “This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety. While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals. We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons.“
    Ronald Reagan

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2018/03/02/before-trump-defied-the-nra-ronald-reagan-took-on-the-gun-lobby/

    • Minor, anyone can be wrong sometime. You have an amazing ability to be wrong all of the time. Do you aspire to it?

      • Well observed, Gadsden Flag. Miner aspires to be like his mentor, Slo Joe. Word on the street is that Trump, being re-elected, will ask Slo Joe to be his Senior Advisor on every issue. Once Slo Joe has outlined in detail his position and recommendation on each issue, Trump will go 180 degrees opposite, as Slo Joe has a perfect 50+ year record of being completely wrong on every single issue. Slo Joe…..the Perfect Contrarian Political Weather Vane.

    • See what I did here.

      I used the Pravda site WaPo to propagandize on “what would Reagan” do?

      So why wasn’t I chosen to produce the Jan 6th special?

      We haven’t seen this level of a witch hunt since The Salem witch trials in 1692.

      Miner’s hard work deserves better.

    • MINOR Miner49er, Seems Reagan was wrong about that. But then so what? An AR-15 is NOT an “assault rifle” nor is it a “weapon of war”.

      • That whiners favorite move. He constantly (ad-nauseam I may add) tells everyone to reject the good, because it falls short of perfection.

        Example:
        Trump went on record as supporting bump stock ban, therefore Trump is NO better then Jobama on preserving 2nd A rights. 🤪
        It’s whinerlogic.

    • Already schooled you on this, (extremely) MinorIQ, the pissant partisan,

      Reagan, being human, was fully capable of stupidity (not, of course, to the same extent as your exalted self and your court jester, dacian the stupid – only a particularly retarded planaria would be capable of such) – as witness the AWB, and its spectacular, predictable, and total failure. From which you and your fellow Leftist/fascists obviously learned . . . not a f***ing thing.

      Yeah, Reagan f***ed up with illegal alien amnesty, the AWB, and believing that fat, lying, drunken POS Pat Moynihan. Take my advice: ‘put not thy faith in politicans; they are a vain, venal, and shady lot of grifters – particularly Dimocrats”. You are welcome, you lying, partisan POS.

    • Note the date that former President Reagan signed that letter supporting the ban on scary-looking guns. It was after former President Reagan had left office — and after he was already suffering from Alzheimers! He was no longer of sound mind, incapable of making an informed decision about guns. Whoever seduced former President Regan to sign his name to that gun-control B.S. was taking advantage of someone who was in no position to sign it.

  3. What is never addressed is the vast 100s millions of deaths by true military weapons/assault weapons in societies where citizens were dis-armed , only police/government had assault weapons. The horrible modern “mass shootings” aren’t even in the rounding error/significant number arena for the deaths in those dis-armed societies……as advocated by Xiden/OBlunder/Pigloosi/Slummer/FineStain/Shift4Brains/et el. This is what the “….shall not be infringed” is all about, and thus……”That is why our masters in Washington are so anxious to disarm us. They are not afraid of criminals. They are afraid of a populace which cannot be subdued by tyrants.” – the late Col Jeff Cooper.

    Slo Joe gives how many true assault weapons to the world terrorists that have killed how many innocent children/men/women, and he wants to lecture law abiding American gun owners on gun control, universal background checks, mental health/red flag laws, magazine capacity, full auto,…….. Slo Joe hides behind impenetrable hardened walls/armed security and doesn’t want to harden our schools!?!?!?!? Kiddies are America’s future; politicians America’s demise.

  4. As the FBI database on homicides of police officers that I emailed to TTAG documents, the ASSAULT WEAPON BAN was actually counter productive. As some of us remember, the specific target of the ban was semiautomatic, AK-47 style rifles. In all the years prior to the ban combined, a total of 2 police officers were killed with these rifles. In both cases, the perpetrator fired only one round so action type and magazine capacity were irellevant. One of these rifles was a rather rare Norinco chambered in .223 rather than 7.62x39mm.

    During the decade the ban was in effect, at least one police officer was killed with a 7.62×39 mm, AK-47 style rifle. The number of rounds fired in these incidents increased dramatically. The decades long trend of fewer police officers killed was reversed.

    Perhaps TTAG should publish the database.

  5. Tell Joe, tell him all about it. Doubtful he cares,but tell him.
    Tell him if he wants to save people stop giving billions in weapons to our enemies .
    Tell him to stop the millions of illegals flooding across our,used to be, borders.
    Tell him to stop destroying our economy.
    Tell him no ice cream, puddin cups or clean diapers until he stops this bs.

  6. “Assault weapon” use went down because they became expensive collector’s items. A former coworker bought an M16 machine gun shortly after the ban because it was cheaper than an AR-15 “assault weapon.” Anyone who wanted one for nefarious purposes could buy a near identical model that didn’t have a bayonet lug or other spooky accessories that defined it as an “assault weapon” and was renamed a Sporter for what the fully accessorized AR-15 used to cost.

      • Yes, Walter, but can a ‘retired Army general’ propagandist use one to make a lying video showing him firing it in “fully semi-automatic” mode???? THAT’S what’s important.

        Even we POTG can be, and sometimes are, sloppy about nomenclature. We POTG should write a dictionary (and generously send a free copy to all anti-2A legislators and ‘analysts’ (and, hell, I’ll chip in to send copies to MinorIQ and dacian the stupid), such that they might acquire a clue).

        “Semi-automatic” vs. “fully automatic” should have nothing to do with caliber, class of weapon, etc. “Assault rifle” might have been ‘a thing’ back in the late 30s and early 40s, but now – not so much. We now have ‘machine pistols’, ‘select fire’ weapons, ‘battle rifles’ with 16″ or even 14″ barrels, ‘submachine guns’, and about a hundred other malapropisms that do NOT accurately define WTF it is that the author/speaker is talking about.

        Is a Glock 17 with an illegally-modified sear and a Glock 33-round magazine a “machine pistol”?? Is an M4 an “assault rifle” or an “infantry carbine”? What was an M-2 carbine?? Fun topic, if you love guns and are a historian.

  7. I have a 1972 vintage Colt Ar15 Sporter. I purchased it at a local store while home on leave.
    Was recovering from being shot with an AK47.
    I’ve used the M16 A1 the A2 model, the M4 model, and a few other variants. While the Colt AR looks a lot like the M16A2, internally, it is very different. All the assault weapons ban did was ban a few cosmetic items. Bayonette lugs? So who has used a mounted bayonette since the Korean war? And that a single charge. And not often in WWII
    Collapsable/adjustable stock? Handy if a rifle is used by different shooters, but has no effect on the function of the rifle. Pistol grip? Really? Something about the handle makes a rifle more or less effective? Magazine size? And it takes longer to tell how to drop, slap and rack than it does to do it. A second at most.
    And, to be honest, if someone has decided to commit murder on a wholesale scale, the availability or lack there of any single weapon will make little if any difference. No guns at all? Gasoline and a road flare. Home made Explosives. Chlorine gass. Any number of things and methods can be used. No gun needed.

    • “Something about the handle makes a rifle more or less effective? Magazine size? And it takes longer to tell how to drop, slap and rack than it does to do it. A second at most.”

      You don’t understand. You really don’t understand.

      Most people, like, totally, nearly everyone, doesn’t know how to use an AR15. They would be so nervous and clumsy that they wouldn’t be able to change limited capacity magazines properly. It would take several missed attempts, and time to remember how to even remove the magazine. Maybe the shooter will get frustrated and just leave. Anyway, that delay time makes time available to run away from the shooter, saving lives. I mean, like, hey, if changing a magazine provides time to save only one life, it is worth it.

  8. “What this means is that it will no longer be possible to buy, sell, transfer or import handguns anywhere in Canada,” Trudeau said in a press conference.

    lol
    He means ‘legally’.
    Oh it’s still quite possible.
    That’s a big part of the problem with these people. They actually believe that something isn’t possible just because they say so. lol…follow the science BS.

    • Prndll,

      Yeah, just ask dacian the stupid, who SWEARS that illegal guns will go away if we just have “universal background checks”. Of course, that requires that one overlook the fact that dacian the stupid is an infamously uneducated moron.

  9. LampOfDiogenes
    “Oh, Sam, I can absolutely GUARANTEE that MinorIQ is “entertaining self”.”

    This is not the first time Miner posted something that makes me think Miner isn’t whomever Miner wants us to think Miner is.

    Or the screen name gets hijacked.

    • A little of both, I suspect. We KNOW that there is at least one troll jacking MinorIQ’s handle, but there are times where even MinorIQ knows he’s being an @$$clown, and is psychologically compelled to follow his “narrative”, but also well aware he’s so full of shit his eyes are brown, and he’s sneezing brown boogers. He can’t find a way to reconcile his narrative with reality so he, as my dear daddy used to say, “looks like a cat trying to cover shit on a linoleum floor”. His ‘arguments’ are so lame, even he doesn’t take them seriously. For instance, ask him to explain how Article I, Section 8 is authorization for universal federal gun control. I’ve taunted him about it for months, and even he isn’t stupid enough to respond.

      He’s a partisan @$$clown, with delusions of gender.

      • “For instance, ask him to explain how Article I, Section 8 is authorization for universal federal gun control.”

        “The Congress shall have Power…..provide for the common…general Welfare of the United States.”

        Amazing that leftists cannot argue that “general welfare” means peace, safety and prosperity for every occupant of the country….meaning federal authority for removal of firearms from the public (well, the law-abiding public).

        (Reminder for many: explanation is not endorsement)

  10. A 2004 research report funded by the National Institute of Justice found that while the ban reduced the use of semiautomatic rifles .But banning so-called assault weapons was never meant to reduce https://www.assignmenthelper.com.au/assignment-help-perth/ overall gun deaths. It was meant to make America’s frustratingly common mass.Though many gun rights proponents state guns are necessary for self defense and A federal assault weapons ban would have minimal impact on gun deaths,

    • Ralph,
      Please review your posting. You know what you mean, but the printed words obscure your point/message. In any communication event, the most important element is that the receiver clearly understand what you are saying. The responsibility for communication success rests squarely on the sender.

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