The Truth About “Assault Weapons”

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The words assault weapons and “large magazine” are often used in media attacks on firearm rights. The following are some facts from the NRA-ILA that give a different perspective on the issue.

  • The congressionally-mandated study of the federal “assault weapon ban” of 1994-2004 found that the ban had no impact on crime, in part because “the banned guns were never used in more than a modest fraction of gun murders.” (Urban Institute) Rifles of any type are used in only two percent of murders. Subsequent research conducted by the RAND Corporation found no conclusive evidence that banning “assault weapons” or “large” capacity magazines has an effect on mass shootings or violent crime.
  • “Murder rates were 19.3% higher when the Federal [assault weapon] ban was in effect.”
  • Americans own over eleven million AR-15s and buy hundreds of thousands of new ones every year. (NSSF).
  • AR-15s are the most commonly used rifles in marksmanship competitions, training, and home defense.
  • Total violent crime and murder has fallen to near historic lows, while ownership of the firearms and magazines that gun control supporters want banned has risen to all-time highs. (FBI, NSSF).
  • AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles are not the fully-automatic, military-grade firearms they are often claimed to be by gun control supporters and the media.
  • Ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds are standard equipment for many handguns and rifles that Americans keep for self-defense.
  • The terrorist attacks in France and Belgium show that gun bans—including those on semi-automatic firearms and standard-capacity magazines—don’t prevent crime. In both countries, the ownership of firearms, including semi-automatics, is severely restricted.
  • Gun control supporters are wrong to claim that “assault weapons” are used in most mass shootings. While the media focus on this false narrative, mass killings have been committed with firearms of all types, and without firearms of any type.

Second Amendment – Firearms that gun control supporters call “assault weapons” and ammunition magazines that they call “large” are among the arms protected by the Second Amendment. Because they’re among the arms that are most useful for the entire range of defensive purposes, they’re “in common use” for defensive purposes, a standard articulated by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008). This is true, regardless of which of gun control supporters’ ever-expanding definitions of “assault weapons” one uses. In 2015, Heller decision author Justice Antonin Scalia reiterated that the Second Amendment and Heller preclude “assault weapons” bans when he signed onto a dissent from the denial of certiorari in Friedman v. Highland Park.

More “assault weapons” and “large” magazines, less crime – From 1991, when violent crime hit an all-time high, to 2017, the nation’s total violent crime rate decreased 48 percent, including a 46 percent decrease in the murder rate. Meanwhile, Americans bought about 200 million new firearms, including more than eleven million AR-15s, and so many tens of millions of “large” handgun and rifle magazines that it seems pointless to attempt a count.

Different guns, same old tune – In the 1970s, gun control supporters predicted that crime would rise unless Congress banned all handguns. In the 1980s, they said the same thing about compact, small-caliber handguns. For a quarter-century, they’ve said the same thing about “assault weapons” and “large” magazines and Right-to-Carry laws under which people carry semi-automatic handguns and “large” magazines for self-defense. Every one of these predictions has been proven false. Nevertheless, they have expanded their definition of “assault weapon” to include virtually all semi-automatic shotguns and detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles, comparable handguns, and various fixed-magazine rifles, and continue to press for a ban on magazines.

Source: NRA-ILA

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