Less than one week after an evil, white-supremacist shot up two mosques killing 50 people in Christchurch, New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that the country will be banning the sale and distribution of assault weapons and high capacity magazines effective immediately. This is an ineffectual means of stymying gun violence; yet, folks on the American political left are praising the new foreign legislation and condemning the U.S. government for its own “inaction” following mass shootings at home.
With New Zealand announcing its impending assault weapons ban, many on the left are pointing to Australia as a shining example of a gun ban successfully reducing mass shootings, even advocating the U.S. adopt the policy as New Zealand has done. While it would appear that Australia’s ban has succeeded, the evidence isn’t so definitive upon close examination.
In response to a 1996 mass shooting, the Australian government passed the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) banning semi-automatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns, subsequently confiscating 650,000 firearms from law-abiding citizens through a mandatory buyback program. While gun violence decreased following the ban, annual total gun deaths were already declining prior to its imposition, indicating that the legislation had no discernable effect on reduced instances of gun violence.
According to GunPolicy.org, there were 674 total gun deaths in Australia in 1988, down from the previous year. By 1992, that number had decreased to 608; and then to 516 in 1994; and then to 470 in 1995. Following the ban in 1996, annual gun-related deaths continued declining to 238 in 2016.
Correlation does not equal causation; the evidence indicates that the assault weapons ban was not the catalyst for Australia’s decrease in gun violence. Nevertheless, the left is calling for the U.S. to impose the unconstitutional legislation, despite the fact that it has already done so unsuccessfully.
Under President Bill Clinton, Congress passed the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) of 1994 which outlawed the sale, distribution, and possession of military style, semi-automatic assault weapons. The law, which expired in 2004, was a blatant violation of Second Amendment rights and ultimately failed in its purpose.
While the AWB was in effect, the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School occurred, resulting in the deaths of 13 students and faculty members. At the time, it was the deadliest school shooting in American history and the ban did not prevent it. It is crucial to note that the two perpetrators obtained the semi-automatic weapons utilized to commit the massacre illegally.
While the legislation failed to prevent significant mass shootings, it was also unsuccessful in decreasing rates of nationwide gun violence. A DOJ study concluded that “the ban had not had a discernible impact on gun crime during the years it was in effect.”
There is, however, an even larger issue with assault weapons bans.
Democrats frequently claim that they only seek to ban semi-automatic assault rifles, such as the AR-15, as opposed to all guns as many conservatives fear. The problem here is that many handguns are semi-automatic and, furthermore, an astronomically higher percentage of gun-related murders are committed with handguns than rifles.
According to FBI statistics, there were approximately 17 times as many murders committed with handguns (7,032) than with rifles (403) in 2017. If Democrats truly seek to neutralize gun violence as they purport, a semi-automatic assault weapons ban would have to include handguns; and this would be a blatant and evidently unnecessary infringement upon constitutional rights.
Ultimately, there is little evidence to suggest a correlation between any reported decreases in gun violence and assault weapons bans. This means that we can lower rates of gun violence by simply allowing law-abiding gun owners to defend themselves and their institutions without imposing an unconstitutional ban to restrict firearm ownership. American institutions (schools, places of worship, businesses, etc.) ought to have armed security to deter and defend against attacks from gutless cowards. That is the ultimate solution to mass shootings; defense not confiscation, because criminals don’t adhere to bans; only law-abiding citizens do that.
The left is essentially striving to ram through ineffectual, unconstitutional legislation with the ultimate goal of inflating the scope of the federal government and reducing the individual liberties of the American people. If Americans value their 2A rights, it would be prudent to vote for candidates who refuse to revoke them.