Assault Weapons Proliferation
by Stephen Erwin
22 March 2004
of the public and even the majority of its core supporters don’t begin to
understand the most important truths about the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994.
in the U.S. Senate have proved that they can pass an extension to the Assault
Weapons Ban of 1994. They succeeded in part because most of the public and
even the majority of its core supporters don’t begin to understand the most
important truths about the legislation.
While the pro-gun community has relied on the same tired old arguments for
ending the Ban, they have totally ignored the best arguments available. The
AWB has actually increased the ownership of assault weapons by hundreds of
thousands, if not millions, of guns. In nine years not a singe person
has been denied access to a high capacity semi-auto rifle because of price
or availability. And a large percentage of the banned guns are identical
to the high capacity 9mm handguns carried as duty guns by our nation’s police.
When these facts are pointed out in a letter to the editor, the anti-gunners
rarely even try to respond.
This is possible because the law doesn’t ban the sale or ownership of any
weapon made before 1995. It only bans the manufacture of semi-auto rifles
(one shot per trigger pull) with folding stocks, pistol grips, and bayonet
lugs. It also bans the manufacture of semi-auto rifles and pistols that hold
more than ten bullets.
The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms was charged with keeping statistics
on assault weapons, but their web site is strangely silent on assault weapons
sales. It’s almost as if they want to keep sales figures a secret.
The site does list import and manufacturing information for the years 1986
to 2000. In the three years before the law was passed 3,049,320 more rifles
and 4,330,383 more handguns were manufactured and imported than in the average
of all the covered years before and after. There can be little doubt that
dealers where stockpiling the guns in advance of the AWB.
In fact the market was glutted. The prices of many rifles fell by as much
as 50 percent. In 1993 AK-47 style semi-autos sold for $400 to $600. I bought
mine for $185 in 1995 and they are still easy to find for under $400.
The Department of Justice National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of
Firearms found that in 1993 and 1994 alone 2.45 million high capacity semi-auto
pistols were sold in the US. Most of these guns were the same style handguns
used everyday by law enforcement and every one was an assault weapon.
After 1994 manufacturers simply redesigned their guns to meet the legal requirements.
In his November 14, 1997, “MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY,”
President Clinton stated that “Firearms importers have obtained permits to
import nearly 600,000 modified assault-type rifles. In addition, there are
pending before the Department applications to import more than 1 million
additional such weapons.”
In a San Jose Mercury News article, Senators Dianne Feinstein and
Charles Schumer stated that “we also want to close a loophole in that law
which has allowed more than 50 million large-capacity ammunition clips to
be approved for importation into this country over the last eight years.”
It’s no wonder 30 round AK-47 magazines sold for as little as $4.95 and they
still sell for under $10.
The only thing that Senators Feinstein and Schumer actually accomplished
was to make the “dreaded” AK-47 style semi-autos plentiful and cheap. They
should be proud.
BATF statistics also show that the percent of assault weapons recovered in
crimes dropped from 3.6% in 1995 to 1.2% in 2002. No statistics were available
for earlier years. It would be interesting to see if this number also peaked
in 1995. That was the year that the national news stopped trying to convince
gang members and drug dealers that assault weapons were their “weapon of
choice.” Since then criminals seem to have returned to using more practical
So now go out and spread the truth about assault weapons. It will drive the liberal anti-gunners crazy.
Stephen Erwin is Executive Director of the Judicial Amendment Coalition, a non-profit corporation registered to lobby Congress for the Judicial Accountability Amendment.
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