Anti-Gun Groups

The Brady Campaign claims that BATFE firearm trace data shows that the ban reduced crime.53 However, the BATFE says it “can in no way vouch for the validity” of Brady’s claim.54 Traces do not accurately indicate the frequency with which any type of gun is used in crime. The Congressional Research Service reports, “Firearms selected for tracing do not constitute a random sample and cannot be considered representative of the larger universe of all firearms used by criminals” and “No screening policy ensures or requires that only guns known or suspected to have been used in crimes are traced.”55 Also, firearm trace requests don’t indicate whether a firearm is a multi-attachment “assault weapon” or a one-attachment firearm.

The study for Congress noted, “because the banned guns and magazines were never used in more than a fraction of all gun murders, even the maximum theoretically achievable preventive effect of the ban on gun murders is almost certainly too small to detect statistically.” The ban couldn’t have had an effect on crime, because the attachments it banned have nothing to do with crime. And “assault weapons” accounted for a smaller share of traces after the ban, because they were no longer a hot political issue, thus there was less interest in tracing them, and BATFE increasingly encouraged traces on other guns.

Even the radically anti-gun Violence Policy Center (VPC) said “you can’t argue with a straight face that the ban has been effective.”56 Brady Campaign has even contradicted its own claim, pointing out that the ban only required omitting one or more attachments on guns made during the ban.57 Separately, VPC has incorrectly claimed that one of every five police officers slain in the line of duty between 1998-2001 was killed with an “assault weapon.”58 Information published by the FBI59 shows that in most of the crimes in question, “assault weapons” were not involved.

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