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The Assault Weapons Ban & Gun Control.

By George Hill


Proponents of the Assault Weapons Bill claimed that it would make our streets and citizens safer, but I will demonstrate that not only has this not been the case, but it was not even the goal of the bill's supporters and may actually be harmful.


One of the most controversial political issues is Gun Control.  This year we are going to see a great deal of debate regarding something called the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB from here on) because in September of this year this temporary ban will sunset.  In 1994, President William Jefferson Clinton signed into law a temporary ban on the importation and manufacture of assault weapons and “high capacity magazines”.  The idea behind this AWB was to reduce crime and stem the flow of blood in our streets.  Unfortunately, according to official government sources (, the AWB and other gun control laws have not been shown to cause any decrease in gun related deaths or gun related crime.  Interestingly, by “grandfathering” existing arms and magazines and only forbidding the production of new ones, the law does not create millions of criminals out of people who already own these guns.   


This had two effects, one of which was to render the law completely ludicrous and useless, because it didn’t reduce the number of guns in any criminal hands.  It only served to limit new guns of military style appearance.  The other effect was to make such arms and accessories more valuable.  Before the law went into place, a proscribed rifle was worth X amount of dollars, and thanks to the law the value tripled overnight.  A new term came into being for the gun owning community, “Pre-Ban”.  While this was annoying to legal gun owners and buyers, it did nothing to alter crime rates.  According to the US Department of Justice, all such crime rates were already in a downward trend and we can really see nothing indicating that these new gun control laws did anything to help or hinder this trend.


Let’s just take a moment and look at what an assault rifle is according to the law and see if there is anything evil about them that would justify a ban.  The law classifies an assault weapon as "a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least two of the following features: 1. a folding or telescoping stock; 2. a pistol grip; 3. bayonet lugs; 4. a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor; and 5. a grenade launcher."


I searched crime records and called several police departments asking if any crimes were committed in which the criminals used rifle propelled grenades or bayonets.  They said they had no such records. If this wasn’t a problem according to the Police, then why were these features included in the ban?   Does a flash suppressor make a rifle more deadly?  What does a flash suppressor do? 


The answers are simple.  The people who wrote the assault weapons ban had no knowledge of firearms.  They only looked at a picture of a scary looking rifle and banned the features that defined it.  To answer the questions about the flash suppressors, no… they do not make a rifle more effective or deadly or evil.  What they do is simply help dissipate the flash caused by the expanding, burning gasses pushing the bullet out of the barrel.  This dissipation reduces the flash of light these gases can create when the gun is fired at night.  However, since more ammunition makers use powders that include agents that reduce that flash, the proscribed feature is virtually meaningless.   I say virtually because there are some who still want that feature.  Those people would be collectors and military aficionados who want a gun to be accurate and unaltered in the historic sense.   


This business about the telescoping stock is just as ridiculous. Can a rifle with a stock that allows a simple adjustment of the length of pull on the stock really be the font of all evil?  Does it change the ballistic performance of the ammunition or the rate of fire of the action?   Not hardly.  It does, however, allow my wife and me to comfortably target shoot with the same rifle.  If anything, banning this feature means I now have to have two rifles, in two different sizes.  So why was this feature banned?  Again, it was banned for nothing more than a purely cosmetic reason.  It looked scary.


To me, I find this amusing.  The US Military forces in WWII used a rifle called the M1 Garand.  It had only one proscribed feature, the ability to mount a bayonet.  Legally it is not considered an assault rifle.  Ask the Germans if they think the M1 Garand is an Assault Rifle. 


Has this ban had any effect whatsoever on crime?  I asked the police this and they flat out said no, it did nothing.  While gun control advocates want an appearance of success, there is just nothing in the crime statistics attributable to gun control laws.  One of the leading law enforcement officers in the nation, Sheriff Richard Mack addresses this point in his book From My Cold Dead Fingers.


To research further into this issue I looked up crime statistics on the FBI’s website.  What I found was not surprising as it only verified what the police have told me. 


Statistics corroborate my police sources; according to, “Assault weapons” account for less then 2% of all guns seized by the police. Although some might attribute this to the ban, in reality assault weapons were never used much in crime. For example, in California in 1990, assault weapons accounted for 36 of 936 firearms involved in homicides or murders. From 1985 to 1989 in Chicago only one homicide was committed with a rifle of a military caliber. (Note that because a gun is in a military caliber does not mean it qualifies as an “assault weapon”) In Florida, rifles of this type accounted for only 2.6% of homicides in 1989.


Interestingly, there was already a downward trend in gun related deaths and gun related crimes.  There are many reasons for this. Gun ownership has not declined, but gun education has increased over the years through the efforts of organizations such as the NRA.  Democrats like to use the NRA as a punchline and tend to overlook the fact that the NRA offers more training in firearms safety to civilians and to police officers than any other organization in the USA. Another factor is that more and more states have been passing laws that allow citizens to legally carry concealed weapons for the purpose of self defense.


The other night I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) and on the radio show was a spokesperson for the VPC (Violence Policy Center; <>). The VPC is a rabid Anti-Gun group that strongly supports the AWB.  This spokesperson said, "If the existing assault-weapons ban expires, I personally do not believe it will make one whit of difference one way or another in terms of our objective, which is reducing death and injury and getting a particularly lethal class of firearms off the streets. So if it doesn't pass, it doesn't pass."


Of course the ban was meaningless because what the VPC and the media never mention when they talk about assault weapons, is that they are all semi-automatic as required by the National Firearms Act of 1934, which banned machineguns without proper authorization and taxes.  So what was the real goal of the AWB?

The key part of the VPC quote above is hidden in the phrase “in terms of our objective”.   What would that objective really be?  Let’s look for a moment at something called Brady Bill II, introduced in 1994 as an add on to the AWB… written by the same people that wrote the first Brady Bill.  Senate Bill S.1878. (<>)  In this bill is a list of many rifles that no one would have ever called an assault weapon… guns like the classic Marlin 1894, Winchester model 94, or the Henry Rifle… lever action rifles preferred by the likes of John Wayne.  The list goes on to include rifles like the Browning A Bolt and the Remington 700, classic bolt action rifles used for hunting across the country during every deer season.  The bill continues to include a 50% tax on everything relating to the shooting sports.  These have nothing to do with pseudo military sporting rifles, so why ban them?  Considering that every gun on that list was taken directly from a gun catalog for dealers and collectors, leaving no gun out.  We can only assume that the bill was designed to simply ban all guns. 

The question I have is this: if the AWB didn’t reduce crime at all, would a complete ban reduce crime?   To answer this question, let’s look at the recent history of places that have banned all guns like Washington DC, England, and Australia.   For the longest time now, all the crime statistics for the US have shown an extremely high level of crime, and violent death for Washington DC.  One year it was even billed as “The Murder Capital” instead of the Nation’s Capitol.  England in turn recently banned all guns in an attempt to rid itself of all crime.  The result was a dramatic increase in crime of all sorts.  Most disturbing was the new form of crime called a “Home Invasion”.  In a home invasion, the criminals do not care if the residents are home or not – they barge in regardless.  Rape and murder often go hand in hand with home invasions.  The same thing happened in Australia.  While Australian criminals may not use as many guns – which the police count as a statistic in their favor – they use other things such as large knives, cricket bats (think of a weird baseball bat) and tools.  If I had the choice between getting my head bashed in or getting shot, I’d rather get shot thanks. 

Gun control means more crime.  It is as simple as that.  The AWB was useless, is useless, and will continue to be useless as long as it’s on the books.  There is a lot of misinformation about these assault weapons.  My favorite gun control line is from the movie “American President” in which the pretty activist lady makes a heartfelt blurb that sounds good and makes you want to agree with her.  “So a five year old can buy an Uzi!”  Of course we want to keep Uzis out of the hands of children, right?  Let me ask you this… Do laws mean anything?  I mean seriously… do they?  Of course it’s already against the law for underage or mentally incompetent or criminal people to own guns… It’s already against the law to own an Uzi.  If you pay the taxes and fill out the paperwork for State and Federal… and your Sheriff signs off on it and the ATF give you their blessing… and if you are in a State that allows it… and you can afford the $8,000 for a typically beat up used Uzi… and the $100.00 a case for cheap ammunition for it… then sure, you can have an Uzi.  The truth of the matter is that very few people can afford an Uzi.  While these guns might be common over in Israel, here in the US they are all controlled and tracked and generally monitored by the BATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms).  Not only do they track these “Class III” type firearms, but owners also give up some degree of privacy as BATF agents are able to come in any time to “inspect” the manner in which you store these firearms.  These inspections can be any time day or night, regardless of whether the owner is home or not. 

Misinformation is the hallmark of the Anti-Gun crowd.  For example this piece from the Brady Campaign, (<>) regarding the AWB “This law bans military-style rapid fire assault rifles like Uzis and AK-47s – weapons of choice of violent gangs and drug traffickers.  This ban was a huge step forward for law enforcement. It has saved cops’ lives.”     I think I have shown that this is incorrect.  According to law enforcement officers, the weapons favored by the criminal class are small concealable, inexpensive guns… guns that have nothing in common with expensive full-auto type machine guns that I’ve already discussed.  Gun control advocates paint the NRA as if it is a villainous organization that wants police officers dead.  The truth however is that no other organization trains more police officers every day than the NRA. 

The other truth of the matter is that this ban might be endangering the lives of US Soldiers.  SOCOM (Special Operations Command) have been wanting to provide its forces with a more potent and reliable weapon than the M4 Carbine.  They want to use a new caliber as well, a 6.8MM caliber rather than the anemic 5.56MM.  Unfortunately manufacturers are not willing to produce such a weapon because the AWB prevents any and all civilian sales of these rifles even in semi-auto-only form. (John Farnam <>)

Unfortunately too many people just go along with the misinformation being fed to them because they don’t have the time to look into the particulars of the issue.  The end result of any non-politically biased examination shows that the AWB should not only be allowed to sunset, but should not have been passed to begin with.   








Center for Disease Control

First Reports Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Violence: Firearms Laws.



The CDC tracks just about anything that is a common cause of death or illness.  They track deaths from firearms as well.  Using the CDC as a source we can look at the numbers of gun deaths before and after the passing of the “Assault Weapons Ban” to see if it has had any effect on gun related deaths.


US Department of Justice; Office of Justice Programs; Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Firearms and Crime Statistics.




The FBI tracks the numbers of crime committed with firearms.  In relationship to the AWB, we should see some good figures in before and after statistics.  


The Claremont Institute for the study of statesmanship and political philosophy:  “Ugly guns and Olympic Dreams”.



A good article about the attitudes regarding firearms. 

The Claremont institute is a good source for rational and nonbiased opinion, nonpolitical opinion.



Independence Institute:  “Assault Weapons Panic” by Eric Morgan and David Kopel




David Kopel:  “Rational Basis Analysis of "Assault Weapon" Prohibition” Independence Institute.



David Kopel writes these two above articles taking a good look at the nature of the AWB and the misinformation about them.


John Farnam, internationally recognized firearms trainer.  He is one of the nation’s premier trainers and experts in the art of the rifle. 




From My Cold Dead Hands”, Sheriff Richard I. Mack, Third Edition “Final Chapter” 2000.


Sheriff Mack is a good source of information regarding civilian gun ownership, giving us the perspective of a law enforcement authority.  Mack is uniquely qualified as a source due to his numerous awarded recognitions:  Elected Official of the Year, New Mexico 1994; NRA LEO of the Year, 1995; GOA Defender of the Second Amendment, 1995; The Cicero Award, 1995; Samuel Adams Leadership Award, Local Sovereignty Coalition, 1998; American Hero Award, Freedom Law School, 2000.  Few individual persons are as qualified.





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Copyright G H Hill 1999-2012

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