19 January 2009

"Assault Weapons" & Semi-Autos


General Information

Semi-automatic firearms were introduced more than a century ago. The first semi-automatic rifle, a Mannlicher, appeared in 1885; the first pistol, a Schonberger, in 1892; and the first shotgun, the legendary Browning Auto-5, in 1900. President John F. Kennedy, an NRA Life Member, owned an M1 “Garand,” a semi-automatic rifle used by the U.S. military during World War II and the Korean War, and owned by hundreds of thousands of target shooters and collectors today.

Semi-automatics account for about 15 percent of the 250+ million privately-owned firearms in the U.S.1 Semi-automatic handguns are used in most defensive gun uses;2 semi-automatic rifles and shotguns are commonly used for hunting;3 semi-automatic rifles (including some that have been labeled as “assault weapons”) and semi-automatic pistols are the most common firearms in NRA, Civilian Marksmanship Program, International Practical Shooting Confederation, International Defensive Pistol Association and other major marksmanship competitions, and semi-automatic shotguns are widely used for shotgun sports. Semi-automatics are used to defend against crime more often than to commit it4 and, as with other types of firearms, the vast majority are owned by people who don’t commit crimes.

Semi-automatic firearms fire only one shot when the trigger is pulled—like revolvers, bolt-actions, lever-actions, pump-actions, double-barrels and all other types of firearms except fully-automatics5 (machine guns), the importation and manufacture of which have been prohibited since 1968 and 1986, respectively, and which are otherwise regulated by the National Firearms Act of 1934.6 A semi-automatic also uses energy from a fired shot to operate its loading mechanism.

Certain misrepresentations about semi-automatics by groups, politicians and media interests that support “gun control” warrant correction. Because semi-automatics fire only one shot when the trigger is pulled, they can’t “spray fire,” and they aren’t designed to be fired “from the hip,”7 as indicated by the fact that they possess sights, which can be used only if held at eye level. They aren’t “easy to convert” into machine guns.8 Federal law, which prohibits manufacturing a machine gun, also prohibits manufacturing an easily convertible firearm, converting a firearm, possessing a converted firearm, and making or possessing a part designed for converting a firearm.9

Semi-automatics, including “assault weapons,” aren’t “high-powered.”10, 11 Power is determined by the ammunition a gun uses, and semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and rimfire handguns use the same ammunition as other guns, while semi-automatic center-fire pistols use ammunition covering the same range of power as center-fire revolvers.12, 13 “Assault weapons” aren’t designed for, or used by, the military; they’re not “weapons of war;” they’re not “designed with,” “equipped with,” nor “designed to accommodate” silencers; and they’re not used by terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq.14 Our soldiers and the terrorists they fight use fully-automatic rifles.

The Beginning of the “Assault Weapon” Issue and Lies About Machine Guns

In the mid-1980s, gun control groups invented the slang term “assault weapon” and applied it to certain semi-automatic firearms which, though designed for civilian use, look like modern fully-automatic assault rifles used by the military.15

In 1988, handgun ban activist Josh Sugarmann, then of the New Right Watch (watching the “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy” before Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., coined the expression), now of the Violence Policy Center (funded by the Joyce Foundation, of which the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, Sen. Barack Obama, was a director from 1998-2001), recommended that gun control groups campaign against “assault weapons” to bolster their long-standing efforts to ban handguns,16 and that they try to trick the public into believing that “assault weapons” were fully-automatic machine guns designed for the military, because of the way the guns look:

“[A]ssault weapons . . . will . . . strengthen the handgun restriction lobby . . . . [H]andgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. . . . Assault weapons . . . are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. . . . Efforts to restrict assault weapons are more likely to succeed than those to restrict handguns.”17

To bolster the lie, CBS, NBC, CNN and network affiliates deliberately ran videos of fully-automatic firearms (machine guns) during reports on semi-automatic “assault weapons.”18 The Violence Policy Center uses machine gun photos to spruce up its “assault weapon” propaganda.

The BATF Importation Ban

Sugarmann also mused, “Criteria to identify and categorize assault weapons could be developed by ATF now and applied toward restricting the availability of both foreign- and domestically-produced assault weapons.” The BATF20 imposed the first “assault weapon” ban the following year.21, 22

Under a federal law passed in 1968 (as amended in 1986), the government (in practice, the BATFE) “shall authorize a firearm . . . to be imported . . . if the firearm . . . is generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.”23

Under that law, BATF had approved the importation of many firearms, including 43 rifles that gun control groups called “assault weapons.” In 1989, however, the BATF reversed itself, and prohibited the importation of the 43 rifles on the basis of their having various external attachments, such as a pistol-like grip, a folding stock, or a flash suppressor.24 (The attachments have always been legal on other firearms. For example, all handguns, including those approved for importation, have pistol grips. None of the attachments provides an advantage to a criminal.)

Self-defense is the primary purpose of the right to keep and bear arms,25 thus a firearm shouldn’t be prohibited from importation on the basis of its relationship to sports. And, any firearm that is legal to manufacture in this country should be eligible for importation. Nevertheless, the importation law focuses on sports. Yet all of the 43 rifles were, at a minimum, “readily adaptable to sporting purposes.” Comparable U.S.-made rifles dominated most major center-fire rifle marksmanship competitions in this country in 1989, as they do to a greater extent today.

The BATF arbitrarily decided that “‘sporting purpose’ (sic) should properly be given a narrow reading,” to include “organized marksmanship competition,” provided paper targets are used, but not to include “combat type competitions.” Under that political-purpose-driven standard, the BATF expressly rejected, as non-“sporting,” the preeminent rifle and pistol marksmanship competitions in the United States, the NRA/Civilian Marksmanship Program National Matches, at which rifles of the type the BATF prohibited from importation are the most commonly used.

The National Matches certainly are “organized.” They were authorized by Congress in 1903 and have been conducted annually ever since.26 And though target material is irrelevant to whether a competition is “sporting,”27 only paper targets are used at the National Matches.

Combat marksmanship competitions are certainly “sporting” as well. Congress authorized the National Matches to enhance combat marksmanship skills among citizens, particularly those eligible for military service. In 1905, Congress provided support in furtherance of that objective, by passing a law signed by President Theodore Roosevelt, authorizing the sale of surplus military rifles and ammunition to civilians under the rules of the National Board for the Promotion of Rifle Practice, approved by the War Department.

With America’s entry to World War I impending, Congress provided additional support to civilian combat marksmanship training in the National Defense Act of 1916, authorizing the War Department to distribute military arms and ammunition to civilian rifle clubs in support of their training programs, providing funding for military marksmanship instructors to assist the clubs, opening all military rifle ranges to civilians, and creating the Office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship under the National Board. Under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1996, the Civilian Marksmanship Program continues the mission undertaken a century ago, by selling surplus military rifles and ammunition to members of marksmanship clubs, and co-sponsoring the National Matches. Civilians and military rifle team members have always competed together in the matches, now held at the National Guard’s Camp Perry Training Site, in Ohio.

State “Assault Weapon” Bans

California banned “assault weapons” in May 1989, and New Jersey banned “assault firearms” in 1990. California’s ban labeled several dozen firearms as “assault weapons” by name, while New Jersey’s named a similar number of guns but banned additional guns on the basis of their external attachments.28 Both states allowed owners to register and keep banned guns already owned, but New Jersey limited that option to guns “used in competitive shooting matches sanctioned by the Director of Civilian Marksmanship” (AR-15s, M1As and M1 Carbines).29 In both states, only about 10 percent of the estimated number of banned guns were registered. California expanded its ban in 2000, by defining other guns as “assault weapons,” including those having only one of the proscribed attachments. Other states subsequently banned “assault weapons” (Connecticut, 1993; Massachusetts, 1998; New York, 2000; or “assault pistols” (Hawaii, 1992; Maryland, 1994).30

The Brady Campaign calls California’s ban the “model for the nation,”31 though California’s murder rate increased every year for five years after its 1989 ban, 26 percent overall, while in the rest of the country murder increased 11 percent; and California’s rate has increased 13 percent since its 2000 ban, against a two percent decrease in the rest of the country.32

The Federal “Semiautomatic Assault Weapon” Ban (the Clinton Gun Ban)

In 1991, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment by a vote of 247-177, stripping an “assault weapon” ban from then-Rep. (now Senator) Charles Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) crime bill. However, many Democrats who had voted against the ban in 1991, when President George H.W. Bush was in office, voted for it in 1994 at the urging of their party’s leader, President Bill Clinton, who had said people “can’t be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans to legitimately own handguns and rifles.”33

Semi-Automatic Firearms and the Clinton Gun Ban)

The ban, which had been passed by the Senate, was passed by the House by two votes after Speaker Tom Foley (D-Wash.) did not close voting at the end of allotted time, to allow Democrat Party whips to convince several members to vote for the ban.34

The 10-year ban, which began on Sept. 13, 1994, and which was disingenuously named the Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act because it exempted various firearms (a pretense with no tangible effect), defined semi-automatics as “assault weapons” if they had more than one external attachment.35 In crime-prevention terms, this approach was pointless because, as noted, the attachments are useless to criminals and are common to other firearms. The ban defined “large” ammunition magazines as those holding more than 10 rounds.

For propaganda purposes, President Clinton and the Brady Campaign claimed that the ban reduced the number of “assault weapons.”36 However, the facts indicate otherwise. The ban did not prohibit guns already made, motivating its Senate sponsor, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), to say, “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America turn them all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t there.”37 The ban also had no effect on foreign-made “assault weapons,” such as AK-47s and Uzis, because the BATF had banned their importation in 1989. And it didn’t prohibit the importation of magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

The ban also didn’t prohibit the manufacture of any guns entirely, it prohibited making certain ones with their standard complement of external attachments. Thus, for example, during the ban AR-15s were made with a pistol-like grip, but without a flash suppressor, bayonet mount and, in the case of carbine models, adjustable-length stock. In practical terms the most significant thing about the ban was that it prohibited the manufacture of magazines holding more than 10 rounds, the majority of which are standard-equipment for handguns not defined as “assault weapons.”38

Rather than reducing the number of military-looking semi-automatics and standard-size magazines, the ban caused their numbers to increase more than they would have otherwise. As the ban approached, consumer demand rose and manufacturers increased production accordingly. And when the ban expired, demand for the original, multi-attachment versions of the guns and the standard magazines soared. Moreover, during the ban, hundreds of thousands of one-attachment versions of the banned guns and millions of imported standard-size magazines were sold.39

Why Congress Refused to Renew the Federal “Assault Weapon” Ban

A study of the ban mandated by Congress concluded, “the banned guns were never used in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders” before the ban, and the ban’s 10-round limit on new magazines wasn’t a factor in multiple-victim or multiple-wound crimes.40 A follow-up study found “gunshot injury incidents involving pistols [many of which use magazines that hold more than 10 rounds] were less likely to produce a death than those involving revolvers [which typically hold five or six rounds]” and “the average number of wounds for pistol victims was actually lower than that for revolver victims.”41 Crime reports and felon surveys showed that “assault weapons” were used in only 1-2 percent of violent crimes before the ban; 42 crime victim surveys indicated the figure was 0.25 percent.43 In the 10 years before the ban, murders committed without guns outnumbered those with “assault weapons” by about 37-to-1.44 Also, most crimes committed with such guns could be committed with other guns, and some could be committed without guns.45

Moreover, violent crime, which began decreasing three years before the ban, continued decreasing as the number of firearms, including “assault weapons” and other semi-automatics, increased. This is true whether based upon the Violence Policy Center’s proposition that virtually every semi-automatic rifle and shotgun should be considered an “assault weapon,”46 or its fall-back position, that “assault weapon” should be redefined to include not only multiple-attachment guns banned in 1994, but one-attachment guns made to comply with the ban.47

Between 1991-2006, U.S. total violent crime and murder rates decreased 38 percent and 42 percent, respectively and preliminary reports from the FBI indicate that rates dropped further in 2007.48 Meanwhile, the number of privately-owned firearms has risen by more than 75 million, about one-third of them being semi-automatics, and about 15 percent of semi-automatics being “assault weapons.”49 The number of ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds rose by 50 million during the years of the ban alone, according to the ban’s House sponsor.50

Also, the ban’s 10-round limit on new ammunition magazines infringed the right of self-defense. Police officers carry multiple standard-size magazines for good reason—their protection. Other citizens have the same right to protect themselves, and the arbitrary magazine limit potentially put them at a disadvantage against criminals. The limit had other flaws too. Criminals who fire guns fire only three shots on average,51 and those that fire a greater number could defeat a magazine limit by carrying multiple magazines or multiple guns. There was no evidence to justify a limit on magazine size, let alone the arbitrary number of 10 rounds.

One can hope that Congress also objected to the truly un-American tone of the rhetorical question that the Brady Campaign repeated ad nauseum during the ban, believing that it alone shouted down any possible opposition to gun prohibition. The question, “who needs an assault weapon,?”52 was, of course, illegitimate. In America, the burden of proof is not upon those who wish to exercise rights, it is upon those who wish to restrict rights, and there is no evidence that an “assault weapon” ban reduces crime. An irrational bias against guns, mixed with an assumed sense of intellectual, social or cultural superiority to gun owners, may seem to gun control supporters like sufficient grounds to ban firearms, but such notions are insufficient in a democracy.

Anti-Gun Groups Disagree About The Ban

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.

Current Efforts to Ban “Assault Weapons”

H.R. 1022, introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), would ban every gun banned in 1994, plus guns made to comply with the ban; guns exempted by the ban; fixed-magazine, semi-automatic, center-fire rifles holding more than 10 rounds; semi-automatic shotguns; detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles; and any semi-automatic shotgun or rifle an Attorney General one day claims isn’t “sporting.” Meanwhile, bills have been introduced in some states to ban pump-action firearms as “assault weapons.”60 That idea, conceived by Donna Dees-Thomases, the founder of the Million Mom March and a friend of Sen. Hillary Clinton, is urged by the Legal Community Against Violence, which has drafted a “model” assault weapon bill to be used in state legislatures.61


1. Of new guns sold in the U.S. since 1985, semi-automatic handguns have accounted for about 75 percent of handguns and about 30 percent of all guns. Semi-automatic rifles and shotguns have accounted for significant percentages of long guns. Fifty percent of guns imported since 1985 are handguns, the vast majority semi-automatic. (BATFE, Firearms Commerce in the United States, 2001/2002 and Annual Manufacturing and Export Reports, 1998-2006, and U.S. International Trade Commission.) Through 1984, 36 percent of guns in the U.S. were handguns. (Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns, Aldine de Gruyter, 1997, p. 97.) Semi-automatics previously accounted for a smaller share of handguns.
2. Handguns are used in two-thirds of defensive gun uses (Gary Kleck, “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense With a Gun,” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Fall 1995, p. 185) and semi-automatics account for most new handguns sold in the U.S. since 1985 (see note 1). Semi-automatic rifles and shotguns are commonly kept for home defense.
3. One of the most important factors in a hunting firearm is the suitability of its ammunition for the game being sought. Semi-automatics use the same ammunition as other firearms that are used for hunting.
4. Criminologist Gary Kleck, co-author of the most comprehensive study of defensive gun use to date, compared defensive gun use data to crime data reported by the FBI and the Justice Department’s annual National Crime Victimization Surveys, and concluded, “defensive gun uses by crime victims are three to four times more common than crimes committed with guns.” (Note 1, Kleck, p. 184.) A study for the Justice Department found that 34 percent of felons had “been scared off, shot at, wounded, or captured by an armed victim. (James D. Wright and Peter H. Rossi, Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms, Aldine de Gruyter, 1986, p. 155.) The study concluded that citizens being armed also deters some crimes, finding that 40 percent of felons had “decided not to do a crime because [they] knew or believed that the victim was carrying a gun.”
5. A fully-automatic firearm, such as a machine gun, fires repeatedly as long as the trigger is held rearward.

6. The National Firearms Act places strict conditions on acquisition and possession of a “machinegun,” defined to include “any weapon that shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” (26 U.S.C. 5845) The Gun Control Act prohibited the importation and manufacture of “machineguns” for sale to private citizens (18 U.S.C. 922d3 and 922o).
7. For example, “Semi-automatic assault weapons are designed to be spray-fired from the hip,” “Pistol grips on assault rifles and shotguns help stabilize the weapon during rapid fire and allow the shooter to spray-fire from the hip position,” and “Assault weapons are designed to be spray-fired from the hip,” (Brady Campaign, Assault Weapons in America: Military Guns in Civilian Hands, Assault Weapons Threaten Our Safety And Security, and The Assault Weapons Ban: Frequently Asked Questions.) “‘Spray-firing’ from the hip, a widely recognized technique for the use of assault weapons in certain combat situations, has no place in civil society.” (Violence Policy Center, Bullet Hoses, Ten Key Points. To justify the claim, “Bullet Hoses” includes photographs of military personnel firing machine guns in this manner.) “Key assault weapon features include . . . pistol grips . . . facilitating spray firing from the hip.” (Legal Community Against Violence, Banning Assault Weapons: A Legal Primer, 4/04, p. 1.)
8. For example, “[Brady Campaign’s Michael] Barnes noted that not only were many AK-47s and AK-47 copycat weapons for sale, but also conversion kits to allow the guns to operate as machine guns.” (Brady Campaign news release, 2/14/05.)
9. The National Firearms Act (see note 6) defines “machinegun” to also include “any part designed and intended solely and exclusively. . . for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun.”
10. For example, “[T]he infamous TEC-9, a high-powered gun . . . .” (Brady Center, On Target: The Impact of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Act , March 2004, p. 5.), “[T]here is a good reason why these features [pistol-like grips, etc.] on high-powered weapons should frighten the public.” (Note 7, Brady Campaign, “The Assault Weapons Ban: FAQ.”)
11. The “power” question is not particularly relevant where criminals are concerned. A study for the Department of Justice found that criminals ranked “large caliber” 9th among 13 handgun attributes. (Note 4, Wright/Rossi, p. 163.)
12. AK-47s and most AKMs (and SKSs, not usually defined as “assault weapons”) use 7.62x39mm, a .30-caliber round producing about 1,500 ft./lbs. of energy at the muzzle, thus suitable for deer hunting at close range. The caliber is less powerful than all other .30 calibers commonly used for hunting: .30-30 Winchester, .308 Win., .30-’06 Springfield, .300 Win. Magnum and .300 Weatherby Magnum, which produce approximately 1,900, 2,650, 2,800, 3,600 and 4,200 ft./lbs., respectively. AR-15s fire the .223 Remington varmint cartridge (1,300 ft./lbs.). Some AKMs use 5.45x39, which is comparable to .223 Remington. The FAL and M1A use 7.62x51, which is interchangeable with .308 Winchester (see above). The Uzi and Tec-9 fire the 9x19mm pistol cartridge, producing under 400 ft./lbs.
13. Typically, revolver ammunition cases are rimmed; pistol cases are rimless.
14. For example, “[D]esigned for military purposes, assault weapons are equipped with combat hardware, such as silencers. . . .” and “Assault weapons are commonly equipped with . . . a threaded barrel designed to accommodate a silencer.” (Note 7, Brady Campaign, “Assault Weapons in America: Military Guns in Civilian Hands” and “The Assault Weapons Ban: Frequently Asked Questions”); “These are military weapons, weapons of war.” (Bill Clinton, Remarks of the President on the Assault Weapons Ban, 4/6/98.) “The oft-seen file footage of Osama Bin Laden, aiming his AK-47 at an unknown target, is now a familiar reminder of the incontrovertible connection between terrorism and assault weapons.” (Brady Campaign’s StopTheNRA.org, “Terrorism and the Assault Weapons Ban: The Threat to Homeland Security, 9/12/04.) Osama bin Laden’s AK-47 was a fully-automatic military assault rifle, not a semi-automatic “assault weapon.”
15. “[T]he term ‘assault weapon’ seems to be an invention of gun control advocates dating no farther back than 1985.” (Note 1, Kleck, p. 110.) The term was derived from “assault rifle,” which refers to a modern fully-automatic military rifle, to which some semi-automatics are similar in appearance.
16. In 1982, California voters rejected Proposition 15, a handgun ban referendum, by 63-37 percent. Most states have never seriously considered a handgun ban.
17. New Right Watch and Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence, “Assault Weapons and Accessories in America,” chapter on “Conclusions.”
18. One video showed L.A. County Sheriff’s deputies exploding a melon with a semi-automatic AK-47. It was later revealed that the deputies shot the melon with the AK-47 without effect, then exploded it with a handgun loaded with expanding bullets. The video was edited to show the AK-47 fired and the melon exploding. A May 2003 video, by CNN’s John Zarella and Broward County, Florida, Sheriff Ken Jenne was deceptively edited to show a gun that was not an “assault weapon” being fired at cinder blocks and a bullet-resistant vest without effect, when in fact the gun had been fired at the ground. Then the video showed the blocks and vest being shot to pieces with a gun that Jenne claimed was a semi-automatic, but which in fact was a machinegun.
19. Note 7, Violence Policy Center. Even the cover photograph is of a submachinegun.
20. “ATF” is how the BATFE (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) refers to itself. “Explosives” was added to the agency’s name in 2003, when its enforcement functions were transferred from Treasury to Justice.
21. A 1932 law passed by Congress prohibits the possession, in D.C., of a “machine gun,” defined to include not only fully-automatics, but also semi-automatics that hold more than 12 rounds. Corrective legislation has been introduced.
22. The BATF suspended the importation of a slightly larger number of rifles in April, conducted its reconsideration of the rifles, and in July made the ban “permanent” for the 43 rifles.
23. 18 U.S.C. 925(d)(3), part of the Gun Control Act of 1968, originally said that the government “may authorize the importation.” The Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986, among other things, changed “may” to “shall.”
24. “Report and Recommendation of the ATF Working Group on the Importability of Certain Semiautomatic Rifles.”
25. The constitutions of the U.S. and 44 states, common law, and the laws of all the states recognize the right to use arms in self-defense. The constitutions of the U.S. and 38 states mention defense and/or security as the reason, or one of the reasons, for the right to arms. Iowa’s and New Jersey’s constitutions have no provision expressly protecting the right to arms, but guarantee the right to self-defense in general terms.
26. Except for several years during World War II.
27. In shotgun sports, targets are almost always frisbee-like discs made of a ceramic composite.
28. California ( Chapter 2.3, the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989); New Jersey (Chapter 39w).
29. The M1 Carbine was not considered an “assault weapon” by the federal ban of 1994-2004, discussed above, because in conventional configuration it does not possess more than one of the external attachments the ban proscribed.
30. See BATFE State Laws and Published Ordinances.
31. Note 7, Brady Campaign, “Assault Weapons in America.”
32. FBI annual crime reports, data available from the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
33. Ann Devroy, “President Rebukes Rifle Association,” Washington Post, March 2, 1993, p. A9.
34. At the end of time allotted for the vote, the ban had failed by one vote. Foley (D-Wash.) held the gavel until party whips convinced one Democrat to switch his vote and two others to vote for the ban. Foley, a member of Congress for 30 years, was voted out of office the following November.
35. Proscribed attachments included, for shotguns and detachable-magazine rifles, a pistol-like grip, or folding or telescoping (adjustable-length) stock; for the rifles, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor or muzzle threaded for same, or grenade launcher (included for propaganda purposes, since true grenade launchers and grenades are restricted under the National Firearms Act, see note 6, section 5845f); for shotguns, a fixed magazine in excess of five rounds capacity or the ability to use a detachable magazine; and, for pistols, a magazine outside the grip, a threaded muzzle, a barrel shroud, an unloaded weight of 50 ounces or more, and “a semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm.”
36. For example, “We must keep UZIs and AK-47s off our streets!” (Brady Campaign news release, “The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence United with the Million Mom March Host First Annual Taste of Los Angeles and Toast to Hollywood,” 10/11/02.) In his March 20, 1999 radio address to the nation, President Clinton said, “Over the last six years we’ve . . . . taken more criminals and deadly assault weapons off the street.”
37. CBS 60 Minutes, 12/5/95.
38. Ultimately, the most significant aspect of the ban was political. A number of Democrats who supported the ban were voted out of office in November 1994, and Republicans took control of Congress until January 2007.
39. For example, during the ban, nearly 900,000 one-attachment AR-15s were sold, though this figure includes rifles sold to law enforcement agencies. (Note 1, BATFE.)
40. Roth, Koper, et al., Urban Institute, “Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994,” 3/13/97, p. 2.
41. Reedy and Koper, “Impact of handgun types on gun assault outcomes,” Injury Prevention, Sept. 2003.
42. Kleck, Targeting Guns; Dave Kopel, “Rational Basis Analysis for ‘Assault Weapon’ Prohibition.” Bureau of Justice Statistics: Survey of State Prison Inmates 1991 (3/93), Guns Used in Crime (7/95), Firearm Use by Offenders (11/01).
43. Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Criminal Victimization 2002,” p.112.
44. Note 31, FBI. Between 1984-1993, 37 percent of murders were committed without guns. Knives are used in about 13 percent of murders, bare hands in about five percent, and clubs in about four percent.
45. The worst mass murders in this country have been committed with hijacked commercial aircraft, explosives and fire.
46. In 2004, VPC endorsed Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s (D-N.Y.) bill to ban guns banned by the 1994 ban, guns made to comply with the ban, guns exempted by the ban, all semi-automatic shotguns, and all detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles. (See NRA’s fact sheet on the bill, introduced in the current Congress as H.R. 1022.)
47. “Changes that allow an assault weapon to stay on the market can be as minor as removing a flash suppressor at the end of a gun’s barrel.” (VPC, “United States of Assault Weapons,” Section 1.)
48. FBI, “Crime in the United States 2006,” violent crime table 1 and Crime Statistics 2007.
49. Note 1, BATFE and U.S. Trade Commission.
50. Schumer Press Release, “Schumer Moves to Renew Federal Ban on Assault Weapons,” 5/8/03.
51. Note 39, p. 10.
52. “Who needs an AK-47 to go duck hunting?” (Note 7, Brady Campaign, “Assault Weapons in America.”) For the record, ducks are hunted with shotguns; the AK-47 is a rifle.
53. “The [ban] led to a dramatic decline in the incidence of assault weapons traced to crime.” (Note 7, Brady Campaign, “Assault Weapons Threaten Our Safety And Security.”) “[T]he Federal Assault Weapons Act has contributed to a substantial reduction in the use of assault weapons in crime.” (Note 10, Brady Campaign, p. 12.)
54. Torsten Ove, “Assault weapon ban’s effectiveness debated,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/28/04, p. A1.
55. Keith Bea, “Assault Weapons": Military-Style Semi-Automatic Firearms Facts and Issues, 5/13/92, 92-434 GOV.
56. R. Montgomery, “Clock ticking on assault gun ban: Flaws put extension in doubt,” Kansas City Star, 5/2/04, p. A1.
57. “In the years since the ban took effect, assault weapon manufacturers here and abroad have responded by cosmetically altering several of their best-selling weapons and putting them back on the market.”
58. Violence Policy Center, Officer Down, Section One. For more information, see NRA-ILA fact sheet.
59. FBI, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted, annual reports, containing incident descriptions.
60. E.g., Rep. Cedric Richmond’s (D) dishonestly-named “Assault Weapons Protection Act,” Louisiana H.B. 68 (2008).
61. Donna Dees-Thomases and Carolynne Jarvis, “Why wait to tackle gun violence? Germany’s timely action should serve as example for America,” Detroit Free Press, 8/8/02; and Note 7, Legal Community Against Violence, p. 59.

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