As we anticipate the coming fight over whether or not Congress should reinstitute the nationwide Assault Weapons Ban, I'd like to thank Mother Jones for making my case for me: no.
Now, in recent months—well before the tragedy at Newtown—a few folks at MoJo had been reporting on mass shootings and their recent frequency. They started collecting data on the numerous shootings over the past 30 years or so and recently put it all in a very convenient spreadsheet. If you click on the “weapon categories” tab, it breaks down the number and types of weapons used in each attack. What I found interesting is that assault weapons, the floated focus of the President's gun proposal, are used in a minority of the mass shootings. In addition, there were nearly as many used in mass casualty events during the 10 years of the last assault weapons ban (13) as there were in the 12 years previous (14). Since the expiration of the AWB in 2004, there have been 8 assault weapons used in mass shootings.
So, what we have is national legislation aimed at 35 weapons that were used in 25 instances over 31 years in a nation that contains approximately 300 million guns. What's more, the last time this ban went into effect, it failed to stop the acquisition and use of over a third of all assault weapons used in mass shootings since 1982. This legislation is likely to be wholly impotent to stop mass violence—the catalyst for this legislation.
In no other arena of public policy, save perhaps drug policy, would such inefficacy be so proudly touted as meaningful. And perhaps most frustrating, there is going to be so much self-righteous ink spilled all over this absolutely worthless legislation that, even if passed, will have no meaningful effect on gun violence. What a miserable waste of time and energy is on the immediate horizon.
Welcome to D.C.'s latest dog and pony show.
bellum medicamenti delenda est