Assault Weapon Ban

Dianne Feinstein Touts Research Claiming the Assault Weapon Ban Reduced Mass Shootings

How to make an assault weapon ban look effective: include handgun murders


After an AR-15 rifle was used to murder 17 people at a high school in Florida, politicians have been eager to consider a new ban on the AR-15 and similar weapons.


Some of the research they're relying on comes from Louis Klarevas, author of the book Rampage Nation: Securing America from Mass Shootings. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) showed President Donald Trump a chart derived from Klarevas' work this week when leaders gathered to think about how to restrict our Second Amendment rights. The chart purported to show the effectiveness of the 1994–2004 ban on the sale and manufacture of such weapons in reducing "gun massacres."

Prior to this, no one even on the pro-gun-control side ever thought that ban had much effect on anything at all, mostly because of the vanishingly small amount of times such weapons are ever used to harm another human being. As Jon Stokes ably explains at the Los Angeles Times, Klarevas and Feinstein are able to insist that the ban produced "a remarkable 37% decline in mass shooting fatalities" only by ignoring the fact that both before or after the ban, such weapons are hardly used to kill anyone. "Klarevas and his allies are taking an apparent drop in fatalities from what are mostly handgun shootings (again, pre-ban as well as post) and attributing this lowered body count to the 1994 legislation," Stokes explains.

Klarevas also cherry-picked to get an apparently impressive result from the assault weapon ban by adopting an unusual definition of "mass shooting." If he had "chosen the most widely accepted threshold for categorizing a shooting as a 'mass shooting'—four fatalities, as opposed to Klarevas' higher threshold of six—the 1994 to 2004 drop in fatalities disappears entirely. Had Klarevas chosen a 'mass shooting' threshold of five fatalities instead of six, then the dramatic pause he notes in mass shootings between 1994 to 1999 would disappear too."

As I explained in my Reason feature "You Know Less Than You Think About Guns," the available data about gun laws often involve whole numbers too small for social science to bring to bear anything like accurate or reproducible knowledge. This is especially true when it involves the sort of rifles that can be used for mass shootings but in reality hardly ever are. (They are certainly not necessary for high-casualty shooting events. In the highest-fatality campus shooting, at Virginia Tech in 2007, the killer used pistols.)

In Klarevas' graph, Stokes explains, "five mass shootings…took place with 'assault weapons' in the decade before the ban, and three…took place during its tenure. These numbers are far too small for any sort of statistical inference, especially if you're trying to build a case for banning tens of millions of legally owned rifles."

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  1. Anything Feinstein says should be taken as if it you hear something from a liar.

    In other words, skepticism is your friend when Feinstein talks.

    1. Anything any politician says should be taken as if it you hear something from a liar.


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  2. This one weird trick can make the 2nd amendment go away.

    1. The P-Hackers Guide to Getting Ride of That Pesky Bill of Rights.

  3. Power mad senile old bat.

    1. Which one?

  4. “‘Statistical inference’?! Those are *people*, not statistics!”

    1. There are very many of them, doesn’t that make it a tragedy?

      1. Aren’t very many of them. (stupid lack of proof reading)

  5. Can we please get a Feinstein / Warren ticket so that the male Patriarchy is finally brought down and freedom loving progressive idealism, mixed with the ancestral wisdom of our oppressed Native American forebearers, can finally liberate our nation from the yoke that crushes its spirit?

    1. I’m in! lmao

  6. A study showing that the world would be a better place if only the government violated our rights is missing a key component–qualitative considerations.

    Utilitarians have never been able to adequately account for qualitative considerations, and yet there really aren’t any quantified conclusions without any qualitative components.

    More safety is always better, isn’t it?

    Well, I once worked in a lock down psychiatric hospital, and being put in a straight jacket and thrown in a rubber room may be the safest place on earth. It’s also horrifying. It may be quantitatively more dangerous to walk around in the outside world, but what about the qualitative considerations of being straight jacketed and locked up in a rubber room?

    I ride my motorcycle to work everyday because it makes my life qualitatively more enjoyable even if it’s statistically less safe. Before we point out problems in Feinstein’s quantitative methodology, let’s make sure she understands the big picture. Dianne Feinstein has no reasonable basis to assume that she can make qualitative choices on my behalf that are anywhere close to my own personal preferences.

    That’s one reason why markets are better than bureaucrats–because each of us can represent our own qualitative preferences in markets. That’s why freedom is better than government imposing Dianne Feinstein’s personal preferences on the rest of us, too.

    1. Ken, I got a new car this year and was shocked at how the saleswoman was excited to show me all the safety features as if the cost is worth the supposed increase in safety.

      Sure modern cars are more safe than 1950 Chryslers, but at some point its all just a means to keep vehicles prices inflated and avoiding giving customers what they really want: luxury, gas mileage, and low price.

      I guess you don’t really consider that we might have reached peak safety in the USA, except for maybe heart disease. That goes back to what you said about quality of life. Some people just want to eat food that tastes good to them even if it kills them.

      1. giving customers what they really want: luxury, gas mileage, and low price

        But the Crown Victoria has been discontinued. (mileage is a variable thing; with very low insurance on a 13 year old car, and without car payments, I can afford a 20 MPG boat made of “real keep me safe in a wreck” steel)

        1. The Crown Victoria was discontinued because it could not reach the mandated minimum mileage standards imposed by the Feds. Compare the amount of plastic in a car today to one 10 years ago and you see the problem. Look at cars 20,30, even 40 years ago and the problem is obvious. Everything in new cars is cheaper and lighter because it is the only way to achieve the insane Caf? standards imposed by the Feds. Do you really think we will have luxury and 38 mpg?

      2. If you look at cars in the 70s and 80s, cars today are actually less safe. The insane Caf? standards imposed by the Feds have forced companies to use lighter steel and more plastic. As a result, crashes that people would have survived unharmed or with minor injuries, now either kill them or cause major injuries. Laws such as mandatory seatbelt laws and child safety seats have been much more effective than any design changes.

    2. Good post, Ken.

  7. Some people got all bent out of shape earlier today because I suggested that if the Democrats weren’t so dedicated to impeaching Trump regardless of the facts of his case, maybe he wouldn’t be doing some of the silly things he’s doing right now regarding video games, etc.

    They thought that if I explained Trump’s behavior, that somehow equated to justifying him going after video games–which is ridiculous.

    Here I’m going with the same kind of cause/effect relationship. I’m old enough to remember when people owning AR-15s was practically unheard of. Now they’re among the best selling rifles in America. Do you know why so many people have and buy AR-15s?

    Anybody who knows anything about guns knows that there’s a run on AR-15s every time someone like Dianne Feinstein or someone else targets them. Hardly anybody seemed to want an AR-15 before Dianne Feinstein and company started trying to ban them. If it weren’t for Dianne Feinstein’s big, stupid mouth, average Americans might not even know what an AR-15 was–much less that they wanted to own one.

    1. The average American still doesn’t know what an AR-15 is. See: AR=Assault Rifle, Fires 1 BILLION rounds per second, is dangerous because of telescopic stocks, can literally be mounted with nuclear warheads, etc.

      1. Why so childish?

        1. Sadly, he’s not exaggerating all that much.

          Michael Moore, for example, said the ammo used in the Orlando shooting “is banned by Geneva Convention. It enters the body, spins & explodes.”

          The New York Times reported that the semi-auto AR-15 can fire eight rounds per second. Alan Grayson upped this to “700 times per minute”.

          etc., etc.

          1. The point was that people who know nothing about an AR-15–except that the Democrats want to ban it–seem to want to buy one for that reason.

            Before they tried to ban it, hardly anyone seems to have known they wanted one.

            They aren’t especially good at what most people want guns for. You can’t carry them concealed. A shotgun or a semiautomatic pistol is probably better in close quarters for home defense.

            Before 1989, when the Democrats started really coming out big against “assault weapons”, hardly anybody seems to have wanted one. Nowadays, they’re among the best selling guns if not the be selling gun. Why the change?

            I suspect a lot of it has to do with the free publicity they’ve received courtesy of those who try to ban them–like Feinstein.

            B-movies that no one knew they wanted to see otherwise used to be advertised as “banned in Boston”.

            Every heard of the Streisand Effect, where trying to suppress something has the effect of making it public knowledge?

            I think that’s what we’re looking at here.

            Before 1989, I remember the gun control debate being dominated by discussions about concealed carry and handguns–as if people walking around with handguns were so frightening and dangerous. The emphasis seems to have changed dramatically with the attempts to ban “assault weapons” and AR-15s. I suspect it led directly to the proliferation of AR-15 ownership. It often happens that people don’t know they want something until the government tries to ban it.

            1. Of course, I’m not saying that Dianne Feinstein is responsible for all the innocent people and children who have been murdered with AR-15s since she and fellow “assault weapon” banning enthusiasts gave them so much free publicity.

              . . . because it’s wrong to blame people who’ve never misused a gun for the actions of murderers and mass shooters, isn’t it.

        2. Fuck off, Hihn

  8. “Anybody who knows anything about guns knows that there’s a run on AR-15s every time someone like Dianne Feinstein or someone else targets them. ”

    There’s a run on all sorts of firearms whenever whenever it looks like the politicians might be gaining traction in banning them.

    But that’s not the only dynamic that ever caused a surge in demand for a particular firearm.

    After the movie “Dirty Harry” came out, everybody wanted a .44 magnum.

    1. I’m sure that’s true; however, the impact on AR-15s (and 30 round magazines) are famous for spiking in the wake of mass shootings.

      It’s hard to find historical data on sales, but you can find numbers on manufacturing.

      Here’s an analysis of spot prices on gunbroker dot com for AR-15s over the course of a mass shooting and Obama’s public comments on the subject.

      Some of these guns tripled in value over the course a week.

      That’s about available supply dropping, drawing more AR-15s out of the attic for sale, and then supply dropping some more as people continue to bid them up, right?

  9. I have a good graph from the sixties that I made for a statistics class. It shows an almost perfect correlation between the sale of ice cream and the number of reported rapes.
    Back then, I suggested that it might be because both are related to warmer weather.
    Today Ms. Feinstein would arrest all ice cream sellers as rapists.
    But then – California.

    1. Silly, the ice cream comes after the rape.

      1. You lack imagination – – – –

    2. I think the relationship between a spike in the demand for “assault weapons” and politicians threatening to ban them is more robust than the theoretical relationship between ice cream and rape.

      Correlation doesn’t always equal causation, but other things being equal, if the demand for something merely stays the same and the government shuts down supply, we expect people to rush out and buy them.

      It’s like the demand for bottled water and generators ahead of a hurricane. If the spike in demand for those things is highly correlated with the approach of a hurricane, that certainly isn’t evidence that there is no cause and effect relationship there, is it?

    3. I also like extrapolation.

  10. *You have never done that…

    Sorry not sure what happened there

  11. I haven’t read it, but I heard Mother Jones was pimping this same bogus research. My take is simple: when the progs claim their schemes to be effective [regarding school safety vs. shootings], it means they want more of the same failures. So… they are ok with Columbine, and they are ok with what happened in Florida. They want more body counts enhanced by non-security zones and seeing accomplished professionals being treated like convicted felons finding their civil rights stripped for the act of showing up for work. They want our children to live in fear in between those moments they aren’t being purposely confused about their gender identity or being taught to hate themselves and their neighbors [and usually on the basis of race]. This could just be Feinsteins last hurrah, before the Leninists in her party throw her under the bus and call her a conservative for helping to deliver California into single party rule via motor-voter. Or, it could be the new left has developed a taste for blood after skirmishes in Ferguson, Virginia and elsewhere. Ghouls… the lot of them. It’s the same spirit that flowed blood during the french revolution after the guillotines ran out of truly qualified recipients, and the same spirit that made oven stuffing an act of “just doing my job” under Hitler. If they hate America, they are free to leave – the sooner the better.

    1. Their primary goal isn’t to stop mass shootings at schools.

      Their primary goal is to take the House in November.

      They’d trample on our constitutional rights to get there, too.

      Fudging a few statistics is no big deal compared to that.

  12. David Nolan = Michael Hihn sock, in case it wasn’t obvious.

    As is “John Galt Is Back”, if/when he shows up.

    1. Yes it is obvious.

  13. FineSwine, still a goddamned liar: film at 11.


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  15. The statistics are irrelevant, as are the comparisons to other countries.

    Here is the only issue:
    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    Repeal it or accept it.

    1. “The statistics are irrelevant, as are the comparisons to other countries”

      And the so-called “studies’ and comparisons are generally cooked up to support the pre-determined conclusions of whoever is paying for them.

  16. The little jew c*nt fineswine is fine little stein! To bad this post feminist half wit doesn’t realize just how easy it to convert ANY firearm into a FULLY automatic! LMAO!

    1. Oh, that’s not even remotely enough asterisks to make this inoffensive, dude.

  17. I love talking to myself. It’s like masturbating with words.

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  19. Columbine happened 5 years into the ban. If gun bans and restrictive gun laws are so effective, why does California has California had twice as many mass shootings as Texas since 1980 with three of them being after they imposed their most restrictive laws? Gun grabbers do not understand or want to accept that by definition criminals break the law so more laws will not stop them. Many gang bangers caught with pistols are under 21 which means they have committed a federal crime by simply being in possession of a gun. The stark reality is laws are only effective when enforced and the Federal government rarely enforces them. In 2013, the FBI forwarded to Holder’s DOJ the names of almost 300,000 people prohibited from buying a gun, many were felons. It is a federal crime for a person barred from owning a gun to even ATTEMPT to buy one. The crime carries a $10,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. From this list of almost 300,000, Holder’s DOJ prosecuted 16 people. There is your problem, folks. …

    1. Because the USA is hardly a country just a dysfunctional family of states with different ideas, that’s why state gun restrictions do not work. California borders Arizona where

      “Arizona gun control laws are among the least-restrictive in the United States. Arizona law states that any person 21 years or older, who is not a prohibited possessor, may carry a weapon openly or concealed without the need for a license.”

  20. Can someone explain to me the need for semi automatic rifles?

    They would only be used for hunting if you are a shitty hunter.

    Nobody is going use them to “Rise UP” and take out the corrupt government, that boat has passed.

    Zombie apocalypse’s are scientifically impossible so no need there.

    For post civilisation wasteland maybe but I don’t think the founding fathers took that into consideration.

    1. You may want to look up something called Hayek’s “knowledge problem”. It explains most of the errors in your comment.

      You think SARs are useless for hunting because you think hunting is shooting Bambi ’cause he has a nice rack. But subsistence hunting and crop protection are at least as important to rural economies, and “sportsmanship” has no place in either. Feral pigs do 100s of millions of $ in damage to crops, to say nothing of raccoons, bobcats, dogs, coyotes, etc., and a poor family getting meat doesn’t care about playing fair with the local deer population.

      You think that armed rebellion is a thing of the past because I’ll bet anything you get your news from sources that are so busy talking about Trump’s latest hangnail that they’ve completely neglected to mention what’s happening in Venezuela, and dozens of other countries around the world. There is no such thing as “consolidated democracy”.

      And you think survivalism is about zombies because you don’t know any real preppers, who are actually more worried about surviving a few months of anarchy in the event of a limited nuclear exchange between Trump and Kim Jong Un or another Depression. Both of which are sadly credible possibilities.

      An SAR only provides a minor advantage in all those situations, of course. But that applies just as much to an AR-15 going up against, say, a truck in a mass killing.

    2. Can someone explain to me the need for semi automatic rifles?

      Probably not. I find that anyone who uses the “nobody needs” argument cannot be persuaded, because they are measuring against what they perceive their own needs to be. Any need I might state, no matter how urgent, will be dismissed because it doesn’t match up with your needs.

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