Today, Colorado Democrats began calls to ban “auto-loading” (read: semi-automatic) weapons across the United States to prevent attacks like San Bernardino. Essentially, this is a reinstatement of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that was in effect from 1994 through 2004. But, this call actually would go further and, according to the Washington Post, would ban most guns. From a 2012 Washington Post article that talks about what was included in the Federal Assault Weapons Ban:
“…Semiautomatic pistols and rifles come in all shapes and sizes and are extremely common in the United States….Congress didn’t want to ban all semiautomatic weapons — that would ban most guns, period.” (the Peak‘s emphasis)
The last time that Colorado Democrats engaged in a massive gun grab did not end well for Democrats. It’s also worth noting that the left relies on a false statistic to claim that mass shootings are up as crime is down. That sounds really bad, but unfortunately for those who would like to use statistics to bolster their otherwise false arguments, the statistics also are not accurate. Here is Reason‘s takedown of the statistic:
If you want to get a sense of both the size of the problem and the trend over time, your best bet is a Congressional Research Service study released this past summer. It looks both at mass shootings as broadly defined via the FBI andat Sandy Hook-style public shootings; for the latter category, it relies not on the Mother Jones count but on a more comprehensive dataset assembled by the criminologist Grant Duwe. (Rather than starting with a search of news accounts, Duwe begins with the FBI’s homicide data to find out when and where mass killings happened, then uses the available media reports to fill in the details.) I described that paper’s conclusions in detail here, but these are the highlights:
- Mass shootings were slightly more common, and killed a larger number of people, in 2009-2013 than in the previous two five-year periods. The congressional study attributes both increases largely to one outlier year, noting that 2012 was unusually bad.
- Few mass shootings are mass public shootings.
- More people die in mass public shootings now than in previous decades, but if you adjust for population growth that increase basically disappears.
There will always be many ways to slice the data, and it’s not a bad thing that there are multiple measurements out there, as long as readers understand what precisely each one describes. But the most important figures of all are the ones you get if you cast a really wide net—wider even than the Reddit group’s—and look at the rates for gun violence of all kinds. In that case, the numbers are clear: Both fatal and nonfatal firearm crimes have dropped dramatically over the last two decades.
The Colorado Left’s argument is that these weapons are too dangerous to be legal. So are pipe bombs. In fact, the two killers in the San Bernardino had in their apartment a dozen pipe bombs as well as materials for making more, despite the fact that pipe bombs are illegal. Even worse, these killers left pipe bombs at their crime scene, hoping to do additional damage. Fortunately, the bombs did not function properly.
But, it’s not because they were illegal, it was due to user error.
If Democrats want to move forward with additional gun control measures despite polls that show that Coloradans do not support them, it is their right to introduce legislation. But, Democrats should not be surprised when Coloradans reject their position as too extreme.
We all want to be protected from heinous events like San Bernardino, but taking guns away from law-abiding citizens simply does not make sense. Besides, there was a time period during which President Obama and his Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the West Wing. Why not push gun control then?