In the last Democratic Presidential debate, Beto O’Rourke finally admitted what many anti-gun politicians have been coy-fully covering up for years. He is proposing an outright ban on “Assault Weapons” including a mandatory buyback (confiscation) from those lawfully purchased by law-abiding citizens.
On September 25th the House Judiciary Committee conducted a three and a half-hour long hearing entitled Protecting America from Assault Weapons. The hearing began with an opening statement from the chairman stating “Assault Weapons have been repeatedly used as deadly weapons of violence on our citizens.” This statement suggests that semi-automatic rifles are frequently used in violent crimes or mass shootings against citizens. So this month, we thought we would give you some of the facts and to see if and an “Assault Weapons” ban or high capacity magazine ban would actually reduce gun violence and mass shootings.
FBI Homicide Statistics by Weapon
This past week, the FBI released the facts in its 2018 Crime Statistics which shows the total number of homicides by weapon for 2014-2018 (see table below).
In 2018, there were 14,123 homicides in the United States reported to the FBI. Of those, 10,265 were committed with a firearm, including 6,603 (64%) with handguns, 297 (3%) with rifles, 235 (2%) with shotguns and 3,130 (30%) other guns/firearms not stated. Assuming some of the other guns/firearms not stated could be rifles and assuming they would be statistically similar to the 3% of the total that are known to be rifles, then the estimated total times a rifle was used in a homicide would be about 387 (4%). This number is still below the total number of homicides committed, without a firearm, including knives (1,515), blunt objects (443), hands/fists/feet (672). In fact, you are about 6 times more likely to be stabbed or bludgeoned to death than you are to be killed with a rifle of any type.
Certainly, some of the most recent and deadly mass shootings have occurred with semi-auto rifles like the AR-15 and AK-47, but the handgun has been used far more often. In fact, of the deadliest mass shootings dating back to 1949, handguns were used in 23 instances, while a rifle of any kind was used 13 times, and a shotgun was used 7 times. The AR-15 and AK-47 are indeed more powerful than handguns, but they are far less powerful than a shotgun or military rifles like the M1-Garand and M14 used in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. Both of these rifles are capable of firing much larger and heavier bullets at a greater velocity than both an AR-15 and AK-47.
Banning High Capacity Magazines
While the statistics clearly show rifles are used far less in homicides than other types of weapons, anti-gun groups still proclaim them as high power “weapons of war” and when combined with high capacity magazines, they become the weapon of choice for mass shooters. However, statistics show that the size of the magazine really doesn’t come into factor in many of the mass shootings. In the book titled “Countering The Mass Shooter” written by Michael Martin with the USCCA, he studied the rates of fire in many of the mass shootings. He also summarizes this information in an article called “The Truth About School Shootings.” The highest estimated rate of fire was 31 rounds per minute. The ugly truth is that in many of these mass killings, the shooter fires a few rounds before people begin to scatter and hide or barricade themselves in a room. The shooter then moves on to another area of the building looking for more victims and fires a few more rounds. This cycle continues until someone challenges him, so limiting the magazine capacity to 7 or 10 rounds would do very little in slowing the loss of life. Here are some examples of rates of fire with limited capacity magazines. Rangemaster Founder and Instructor, Tom Givens, uses an exercise called the Casino Drill in many of his classes. The drill is a 21 round course of fire with 3 magazines loaded with 7 rounds each. The student has to accurately hit 6 different targets with 21 rounds and has to perform 2 reloads. The goal is to complete the drill in under 21 seconds. The last time I participated in this drill my time was just over 16 seconds, which was about average for the group of 16 students that day. If you apply that rate of fire to a full minute, that is about 76 rounds per minute using 7 round magazines. Even in our monthly IDPA matches we have revolver shooters with higher rates of fire than most of the mass shootings.
Take a few minutes to watch this segment from Amy Swearer with the Heritage Foundation as she informs the committee on the facts!
The “Othering” of Gun Owners
“Othering” is defined as “treating people from another group as essentially different from and generally inferior to the group you belong to.” This is not a new tactic. It has been used successfully to shame smokers during the 90’s and 2000’s. First they were ostracized to the “smoking sections”, then banned from confined spaces such as planes and buses, and finally businesses and restaurants banned all smoking in their buildings. When faced with facts that gun violence is not an epidemic, anti-gun groups and politicians can and have resulted to this tactic. In 2008, rural Americans were labeled “bitter” and accused of “clinging to God and guns”. In 2016, another subset of voters were called a “basket of deplorables” and more recently the City of San Francisco labeled the NRA a Domestic Terrorist Organization, and congressional members have even referred to NRA members as ‘mass murderers’ and ‘white supremacists’. In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, Walmart, Kroger, Walgreens and others have banned open carry and Walmart has even decided to stop selling certain types of ammunition. Ironically, these companies still sell cigarettes.
A new “Assault Weapons” ban or magazine restriction will have little to no impact on crime or mass shootings. This was already proven in the 1994 assault weapons ban. Today, some legislatures believe the 1994 law had no effect because it didn’t go far enough, and any new bill should include more restrictions, buybacks or other measures to remove AR-15s and AK-47s from legal gun owners. Then when the next mass shooting happens with a semi-auto pistol or shotgun, the anti-gun groups will claim the new law didn’t go far enough and we need to ban/buyback all semi-auto firearms. Then when the next Santa Fe, TX, School shooting happens with a revolver and pump-action shotgun we will once again face another round of bans and buybacks.
Towards the end of the “Protecting Americas from Assault Weapons” hearing, Dr. RaShall Brackney, Chief of the Charlottesville Police Department in Virginia, responded to a question about banning hunting rifles from Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla). Her response was “I believe any weapon that can be used to hunt individuals should be banned.” Law enforcement officers have an extremely difficult job, but in the event of a home invasion when we are faced with multiple armed attackers or in the middle of a mass shooting, WE are the ones that call 911. The responding officers are going to bring the best options for defense with them including high capacity semi-auto pistols, rifles (AR-15s) and shotguns. Shouldn’t we, the citizens, who have to face the attackers until the Police arrive, have the same options to protect ourselves and our family that law enforcement would bring