joe biden assault weapons ban
Former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
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This week the campaign website for presidential hopeful Joe Biden published what it called an “Education … Plan for Educators, Students, and Our Future.” Among its agenda items was to “[d]efeat the National Rifle Association” by “championing legislation to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines – bans [Biden] authored in 1994.”

In other words, Biden would reprise a law that was widely recognized (including among gun control advocates) as a failure and the cause of his party losing control of Congress in 1994.

Halfway through his first term, President Bill Clinton signed the Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act of 1994into law. That 356-page bill included a ban on certain semi-automatic firearms and limits on the capacity of firearm magazines. It’s ghoulish and Orwellian short title was the “Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act.”

Firearms misleadingly dubbed “assault weapons” were banned by the law in three ways: by name, as “copies or duplicates” of the named firearms, and by a test that limited what features could be incorporated into a semi-automatic rifle with the ability to accept a detachable magazine. Firearms that were lawfully possessed before the ban’s effective date were exempt.

The ban included a provision that required the U.S. attorney general to “investigate and study the effect of this subtitle and the amendments made by this subtitle,” and in particular, “their impact, if any, on violent and drug trafficking crime.” The study was to be reported to Congress not later than 30 months after the law’s enactment.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) contracted with the Urban Institute to complete that assessment, and it was published on March 13, 1997. The study, while bemoaning the necessarily limited amount of data for review, failed to substantiate any significant reduction in violent crime attributable to the ban.

In particular, the authors “were unable to detect any reduction to date in two types of murders that are thought to be closely associated with assault weapons, those with multiple victims in a single incident and those producing multiple bullet wounds per victim.”

The authors did posit a “6.7% reduction in total gun murders between 1994 and 1995, beyond what would have been expected in view of ongoing crime, demographic, and economic trends,” but they admitted this could simply have been a year-to-year variation, “rather than a true effect of the ban.”

They also acknowledged that other provisions of the 1994 crime bill, “or a host of state and local initiatives that took place simultaneously,” could have accounted for the drop.

More fundamentally, the authors pointed out that the ban from the outset missed the point when it came to reducing violent crime. “At best,” they wrote, “the assault weapons ban can have only a limited effect on total gun murders, because the banned weapons and magazines were never involved in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders.”

The ban, in other words, actually went after guns and magazines that were underrepresented in firearm related homicides.

What debate over the law did seem to accomplish, according to the study, was to raise interest into the firearms targeted for banning. Production of the targeted guns surged during 1994, “so that more than an extra year’s normal supply of assault weapons and legal substitutes was manufactured during 1994.”

The upshot was that prices for grandfathered and substitute guns remained near pre-ban levels for the early years of the law, and consumers could go on as before purchasing them for legal uses.

But that’s not all.

The lead authors of the study later received another NIJ grant to update their findings, which they did in July 2004 under the auspices of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Again, the authors indicated that the ban missed the point. “The AW provision targets a relatively small number of weapons based on features that have little to do with the weapons’ operation,” they wrote.

They also reiterated that “AWs were used in only a small fraction of gun crimes prior to the ban: about 2% according to most studies and no more than 8%,” with most of those “assault weapon” crime guns being pistols, rather than rifles.

The authors also conceded that the ban had no effect on the criminal use of what today’s gun control advocates consider the paradigmatic “assault rifle,” the AR-15. “There has not been a clear decline in the use of ARs,” they wrote, an assessment that was “complicated by the rarity of crimes with these weapons … .”

Likewise, the authors saw no drop in the use of banned magazines in crime and could not “clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.”

Overall, the authors concluded that “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”

The only good thing about the ban’s language was that it contained a 10-year sunset clause, the expiration date of which just happened to coincide with the waning days of President George W. Bush’s first term. Congress allowed the law to expire, giving it the ignominious death it so richly deserved.

Since then, even staunch gun control advocates have often admitted that trying to ban certain types of semi-automatic firearms under the guise of “assault weapons” is a fool’s errand.

The Atlantic, in a June 25, 2016 article, referred to the law as “Bill Clinton’s Costly Assault Weapons Ban.” The article quotes a lengthy oral history by Clinton’s chief congressional affairs lobbyist, who indicated he was caught off guard when he learned that Clinton was committed to pursuing the law.

“It was,” the lobbyist said, “a disaster from day one.” Democratic party leadership pleaded with Clinton not to pursue the ban. When he insisted, they tried to distance themselves from the effort as much as they could.

While deals were made, the lobbyist recounts, they “were not necessarily made on the substance of the issue. The candy store was open. . . It was a very transactional kind of setup.”

In the 1994 midterm elections soon after the ban’s enactment, Clinton’s party lost a net of 54 seats in the House, as well as 8 Senate seats.  The lobbyist attributed at least 40 of those losses to the “assault weapons” ban. Clinton himself later concurred that he had pushed too hard on the ban, effectively handing control of Capitol Hill to the opposition party.

Bill Clinton had no stronger critic in 1994 than the NRA.

Yet that episode is what Joe Biden now calls a “defeat” of the NRA.

Of course, Biden and his fellow Democrats are counting on the idea that the politics around “assault weapons” have changed since then.

And while it’s certainly true that the Democratic base remains committed to the idea of resurrecting an “assault weapons” ban, it’s not true that the American public at large agrees with them or is showing any sustained fervor around the issue.

As we reported last October, Americans oppose a ban on AR-15s and similar semi-automatic firearms by robust double-digit margins, with support for such a ban 7% lower than the historical trend dating back to 1996, when Gallup first began polling on the issue.

“Defeating the NRA” may be a nice rallying cry for people who maintain committed to disarming law-abiding Americans, but taking their semi-automatic rifles won’t improve public safety.

Some of the more honest members of the gun control movement admit this, including in articles published in such staunchly anti-gun publications as the New York Times, the Washington PostMother Jones, the Los Angeles Times, and

And let’s not forget, Joe Biden himself was the figurehead for Barack Obama’s post-Newtown federal gun control blitz in late 2012 and early 2013.

But, as Politico recounted, “Biden did not deliver.” In that same article, a Senate aide recounted how even as Biden was publicly calling for restoring the federal “assault weapons” ban, “[b]ehind the scenes, [he] was ‘instrumental’ in convincing more liberal Democrats that there was no point in fighting for anything beyond a background check bill … .”

You might even say ol’ Joe himself recognized he was already defeated by the NRA.

It of course remains to be seen if Joe Biden will even prevail in his party’s presidential primary, much less have the opportunity to pursue his legislative agenda from the Oval Office.

But it only takes a little homework to show that when it comes to gun control, all he is offering with his “education” plan are empty promises and failed policies.

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    • Not just Biden, but the entire Democrat establishment is essentially saying, “Let’s dust off all of our old, failed ideas and see if they work this time.”

      • Not just Dems. — RINO’s are Helping everywhere.

        4 New Red Flag Bills introduced in Pennsylvania ; The Legal Brief by Adam Kraut.

        • PA is turning into NY and Md slowly but surely. A few more election cycles and tne state constitution Franklin wrote will be tweaked.

        • I don’t miss PeeAye, but they apparently miss my tax dollars. They send me quarterly estimated tax forms here in Florida (my permanent residence since late 2017) I hope it cost them a lot to figure out where to send them. I laugh and throw em in the trash. I’m sure if they ever become as bad as NY they will send paperwork here telling me where and how to turn in my guns. Hilarious!

      • “…the entire Democrat establishment is essentially saying, “Let’s dust off all of our old, failed ideas and see if they work this time.””

        Let ’em, that works for us.

        As it looks now, the ‘establishment’ Leftists think ‘Joe’ is the safe bet, and will probably see to it he gets the 2020 nomination.

        This is good, because it will *enrage* the hard Left, and that will motivate them to not show up and vote like in 2016, with an utterly non-inspiring Hillary…

    • “We just eliminated a whole class of weapons!”….[bill to hilliary]…of course we also lost congress…oh, well….

  1. Notice the apparent increase in multiple death shootings involving semi-automatic firearms. Seems to be building data to substantiate reintroduction of the AWB of 2004. What do you think the odds of the anti-gunnies manipulating mentally troubled individuals……”nudging” them….to commit these acts. Naw, not our government. But, then, our government would never run guns across the border into ole Mexico; weaponize the IRS against Conservative organizations; weaponize the FBI against a presidential candidate;. weaponize the media against Constitution and Bill of Rights, especially the Second Amendment; weaponize the public educational system to indoctrinate children to “transform” the nation (Lenin’s tactic)….

    • Every year for many years, the percentage of semi-auto guns in the U.S. has increased. (this is a bit of speculation, I haven’t analyzed it but I’d wager that it is true.) One might notice a related decline of the percentage of crimes involving revolvers compared to, say, 1970?

      • Revolvers are , generally, much more expensive being machine from metal instead of molded plastic. So economics along with capacity drove that. I prefer a quality wheel gun for the art it represents. Very little art in a plastic gun.
        A semi auto ban will morph into a ban on anything holding more than 5 rounds and then more than 2. Finally only flintlock pistols will be allowed. Look at the UK banning guns never used in crimes because they think they might be used in crimes.

        • I wouldn’t put it past the Dems! Guns are not a new invention, and I don’t remember mass shootings when I was young. Either they are nudging, or they make everyone so crazy they can’t think anymore. This is not a gun issue, but a societal issue.

        • Texan, I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s and don’t remember mass shootings either. Duck&cover and sinking in quicksand were the concerns. Today’s speed at at which information/mis-information moves and its dissemination, is heavily abused by the media. Unfortunately, the more convincing the “message”, the right amount of feelz, and the most repettious, can persuade the masses, in the middle, that guns are bad. Rhetorical question, how do we convince the misinformed guns are not the problem?

        • Hey SoCalJack, We are about the same age 👍🏻 , and I agree with you 100%. I think social media and smartphones are part of the problem. We are constantly overloaded with info and mis-info. People fail to categorize guns properly. I put them in the category of ‘tools’. Delivery trucks, hammers, knives, and guns are tools that can be used for good or evil. It’s the heart of the person using the tool. The dems don’t want to admit it because they want to create tyranny by disarming citizens. They know the truth, that’s the most frustrating part.

        • “Rhetorical question, how do we convince the misinformed guns are not the problem?”

          That’s the question that needs to be addressed.

          Any ideas, Strych9?

  2. Ive come to the conclusion over time.
    Not lately that Libitards are nuttz.
    We all know Bidden is nuttz. That’s NOT new.
    Instead of any new realistic ideas. They the Dimwits continue to try and bring back failures from the past.
    Why else other then being insane. Why would Bidden want to bring back a law that did nothing, changed nothing, was in effect useless. And only harmed the law abiding.
    I guess you have to be nuttz to think any of these laws are helpful.

    • The democrats don’t care if the laws are useless as long as said laws increase their control over everyone. Democrat politicians honestly believe they are better qualified to run your life than you are.

      • It’s always been about the emotional response. That’s more apparent now than ever. Left wing voters believe these lies because they’re repeated by the longtime “respectable” media ad nauseam.

        This could actually happen if Trump loses. It passed last time with a slim Senate majority. All it would take is a few unreliable RINOs to vote for this.

  3. He’s got the nomination already, the DNC would never allow a real competition. Now we can focus a bit more on him and the hyphenated vice president they choose for him.
    I think Don is going to get 4 more and no matter what else he does the courts will be better for us because if it.
    That’s his real achievement.

    • “He’s got the nomination already, the DNC would never allow a real competition.”

      That’s what I’m counting on. The ‘Democrat Socialists’ scare the shit out of the DNC ‘old guard’. We have to be afraid of Bernie, more than anybody. The ‘old guard’ will prefer him of any of the other far-lefters out there..

  4. Don’t forget that the so-called republicans are part of the problem too.
    I believe we have become a 3 or 4 party nation.
    You have the dims and the repugs.
    You have the SD commies, which is most of the under 30s.
    You have the party of Trump.
    I wouldn’t send a penny to the RNC , but I do support the politicians that support Trump.
    Unfortunately I don’t see a republican that would/could follow Trump after 2024. Pence has no chance of being elected, maybe Cruze?
    In other news; the dims of commiefornian have declared Israel to be the cause of antisemitism.

  5. We may be in trouble. Creepy Joe, the master of intersectionality, has the pedophile vote locked in. If he continues to make vaguely word-like noises with his mouth, and his trademark goofy faces, he will be the nominee for the Party of Vile Filth. ” I have a dream………”

  6. Yeah you did a helluva job after Newtown Slow Joe…oh wait😄😋😏

  7. White liberal gun owners will vote for Joe. They are socialist progressive in their political orientation. But black gun owners will vote for Trump. If Trump gets 20% or more of the black vote the democrats will lose very badly. Trump got 15% of the black vote during the last election.

    This is why the white Liberal democrats are importing a group of new dark skinned voters. They need new voters and they still need to be able to play the race card. It’s a twofer for the democrats. And these new voters are use to not having gun rights.

    • Don’t discount all the illegals voting that are being imported by the millions. To h state that will not clean up their voter rolls and implement voter I D should not be able to submit votes.

    • “Trump got 15% of the black vote during the last election.”

      And that scared the hell out of the Leftists. It blew their little minds that Blacks could even consider voting for Trump. If the economy is strong next election, he’ll likely improve on that 15 percent…

  8. Joe will eventually #metoo himself (again) and kill his campaign long before it gets off the ground, really I think his campaign is just a zombie right now anyway because all one really has to do to totally kill his momentum is play a constant loop of all those awkward shoulder rubs, hair sniffs, and unsolicited neck kisses. Pity of it all is that even so he still gets the nod because the dems just CANNOT put up a decent contender to put him down and give Trump a run for his money. Harris is garbage, Beto is well Beto, Buttigieg is a walking talking joke, Dolezal err… Warren fell on her own sword of cultural appropriation for personal gain, Cuban don’t have the sack for it, and the rest are too unknown to even be worth attempting to run. Normally, this would lead to a complete meltdown of the party and a newcomer coming in with fresh ideas and kick starting a new direction change for the party (Trump 2016 and Obama 2008) but with the left being so mired in the muck of social justice and identity politics I just don’t see that happening here, not party wide anyway.

  9. The man is a buffoon,a total joke,if politics was his life’s work he has been Failure.
    If this is the best the Left has got,they are Effed than they know.

  10. Shotgun Joe up to his usual mischief, aided and abetted by the usual suspects and assorted knownothings.

  11. More important than issues in 2020 will be the Electoral College. The left have already begun focusing on some non traditional states they hope to flip and capture the associated electoral votes.
    This election will prove to be ruthless compared to anything we’ve ever seen. With the hard push left and the social and cultural declines we are witnessing, they want to strike while they have momentum. Ignore the lessons on immigration and weapons bans across Europe, of course.
    Giving the vote back to felons, pardons galore from lib governors and all the other appeasements taking place, they are winning over communities with their strategies.
    I keep hearing how DJT will trounce the Dems in 2020. One sure path to losing is if we embrace the complacency and arrogance they expect us to.
    It ain’t over until til it’s over.

  12. The point isn’t that the policies failed or will fail again. It’s that “education” will result in people supporting them.

    Even Biden recognizes that the keys to a political victory on such a topic lie in controlling the educational system.

  13. When the courts and SCOTUS stop protecting the US Constitution then the breakdown in our government will require the people to provide the protection of the Constitution. Hopefully, that never occurs. If it does, I foresee it as being very surgical in nature with the removing of the judges and politicians who are a threat to the Constitution, as written. This could also lead to the shut down of liberal, hard left media institutions and possibly the individuals who provide the financial support for that agenda. I doubt a total civil war would ever occur again but I could definitely be wrong. There is no way that I endorse this though and hope the SCOTUS gets stacked with Constitutional judges to stop this.

  14. The cartels are likely sending hundreds or thousands of sicarios into the USA with the “pseudo economic migrants”. The drug wars will start heating up and violence will be rampant. The perfect tie to start disarming decent citizens.

  15. Revive the AWB? Are those the same deadly ‘weapons of war’ that LEOs have in the trunks of their cruisers along with ‘high capacity’ magazines. Are the police at war and out to murder as many citizens as possible?

  16. at least hes not openly calling for brainwashing folks about the 2nd amendment like his former boss’s attorney general and wingman did

  17. Any education is very important, despite the fact that financial literacy is important for every person’s life, many students cannot forget about it after school. I want to recommend the article for five reasons why financial education is important for everyone. Financial literacy is the ability to put into practice a practical and theoretical understanding of all the different aspects of money management.

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