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Fact Checkrecently examined a proposition put forward by U. S. Senator Chris
Murphy who, according to some of his gun toting critics, will not rest content
until he has repealed the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, abolished
the National Rifle Association (NRA), and confiscated every "assault weapon" – assault guns, assault knives
and, especially prominent just now in Europe, assault vans – from sea to
shining sea. “What we know, Murphy said, "is that
states that have tougher gun laws, that keep criminals from getting guns, that
keep those dangerous weapons like AR-15s out of the hands of civilians, have
dramatically lower rates of gun violence."
Fact Check found
that while Murphy was entitled to make up his own mind on assault weapons, he
was not entitled to make up his own facts, and the Junior Senator from
Connecticut was given three Pinocchios.
Let’s deal first
with Murphy’s AR-15 claim, Fact Check began. In support of Murphy’s claim
that tough gun law states like Connecticut and Chicago that “keep criminals
from getting guns, that keep those dangerous weapons like AR-15s out of the
hands of civilians, have dramatically lower rates of gun violence," a
Murphy spokesperson pointed to “several studies” that backed Murphy’s
Fact Check examined
the studies, the bedrock upon which Murphy’s claims rest, and found: “None of the studies [cited by the
spokesperson] address bans on assault weapons such as the AR-15, but the
effectiveness of an assault weapons ban was widely studied after Congress
imposed a nationwide 10-year ban in 1994.”
Pointing to one
such study undertaken by Christopher Koper of George
Mason University and
his colleagues, Fact Check summarizes the finding of that study: “The
effectiveness of the ban was inconclusive. Gun violence declined nationwide
into the 2000s, but the researchers ‘cannot clearly credit the ban with any of
the nation's recent drop in gun violence.’ The researchers estimated that the
effects of the ban ‘may not be fully felt for several years into the future,’
and ‘should it be renewed, the ban's effects on gun violence are likely to be
small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.’ The ban was not
renewed.” Murphy’s claim is not supported by the study.
Fact Checker notes
the deficiencies of the ban itself: The 1994 ban “may not have covered all
forms of assault weapons because it did not ban all semiautomatic weapons.
Instead, it banned semiautomatic weapons with large-capacity magazines and
weapons that ‘appear useful in military and criminal applications but
unnecessary in shooting sports or self-defense.’" The observation raises the
ticklish question: What weapons would an effective ban exclude? And the honest
answer to the question is all "assault weapons" -- possibly including the recently favored
weapons of terrorists, such as knives, vans and exploding pressure cookers -- not
to mention a repeal of the Second Amendment supported by former Hartford Courant
columnist Bob Engelhart, and the confiscation of all guns in the United States,
the Australia solution to gun violence.
Author Don Pesci
The problem with
partial bans is that they are “not comprehensive,” a favorite expression of the
anti-Second Amendment left. Englehart is right: We should learn to speak of
partial weapons bans with the same smiling contempt used by people who speak of
partial pregnancies, partial round circles and partial square holes. The ban
enacted into law in Connecticut, if nationally replicated, would not
substantially drive down murder rates in Chicago or Hartford.
A recent 2016 study
published in Criminal Justice Review, Fact Check notes, addressed “the
connection between 19 different gun-control laws and violent crime in roughly
1,000 U.S. cities. Kleck [co-author of the study] found that ‘gun control laws
generally show no evidence of effects on crime rates, possibly because gun
levels do not have a net positive effect on violence rates.’ But there were a
few exceptions. Requiring a license to possess a gun and bans on gun purchases
by alcoholics appeared to reduce the homicide and robbery rate.” And, of
course, the licensing of guns is as common as table salt. The gun violence
figures recently used by Murphy as emotional props to acquire campaign funds include suicides, which account for nearly
60 percent of gun crimes . . .
To read the rest of Don's commentary, visit his web site.