Joe Biden has been out on the primary campaign trail working hard.
Maybe a little too hard.
“We got to let them know who we are,” he recently told a crowd of supporters at the Iowa State Fair. Perhaps the most accurate of the qualities he used to describe himself and his fellow travelers was “We choose truth over facts!”
That much we know, Joe.
And while Biden’s statement may sound like an amusing gaffe, the truth that matters to many in the anti-gun movement isn’t the truth but their truth.
Case in point, Biden also recently lent his name to an editorial in the New York Times in which he claimed “Banning Assault Weapons Works.”
He was, to use modern activist terminology, “speaking his truth.”
But in doing so, he was ignoring the facts.
Biden claimed in his editorial that “with Senator Dianne Feinstein I led the effort to enact the 1994 law that banned assault weapons and high-capacity magazines for 10 years” and that “[t]hose gun safety reforms made our nation demonstrably more secure.”
In fact, the “assault weapon” ban Biden championed in 1994 contained a provision that required the U.S. attorney general to “investigate and study the effect” of the law, with an emphasis on its “impact, if any, on violent and drug trafficking crime.”
Thereafter came not one, but two, detailed studies commissioned by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Neither concluded that Biden’s “assault weapon” ban had any demonstrable effect on reducing violent crime.
In the first study, the authors recognized that banning “assault weapons” was unlikely to ever move the needle on violent crime, given that firearms meeting that legal designation were actually underrepresented in firearm related homicides.
“At best,” they wrote, “the assault weapons ban can have only a limited effect on total gun murders, because the banned weapons and magazines were never involved in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders.”
Seven years later, the lead authors received another grant to update their findings.
Again, the authors indicated that the ban missed the point.
“The AW provision targets a relatively small number of weapons based on features that have little to do with the weapons’ operation,” their report stated. They also reiterated that “AWs were used in only a small fraction of gun crimes prior to the ban: about 2% according to most studies and no more than 8%,” with most of those “assault weapon” crime guns being pistols, rather than rifles.
The authors also conceded that the ban had no effect on the criminal use of what today’s gun control advocates consider the paradigmatic “assault rifle,” the AR-15. “There has not been a clear decline in the use of ARs,” they wrote, an assessment that was “complicated by the rarity of crimes with these weapons … .”
Likewise, the authors saw no drop in the use of banned magazines in crime and could not “clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.”
Overall, the authors concluded in their follow-up that “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”
And it’s not just DOJ commissioned researchers who recognize this.
Last year, the RAND Corp. published a large-scale review of existing gun control studies to determine “what scientific research can tell us about the effects of gun laws.” The effort made a point of focusing on studies with the highest analytical rigor.
The RAND review found no scientific support for the proposition that bans on the sale of “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines” reduced violent crime generally or even mass shootings specifically.
If that weren’t enough, articles in leftwing media outlets – including New York Times, the Washington Post, Mother Jones, the Los Angeles Times, and Vice.com – have recognized that Biden’s 1994 law was a failure and that reprising it isn’t likely to improve public safety.
To be fair, Biden himself probably knows all of this.
History, after all, shows he is perfectly capable of speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
A revealing 2015 article in Politico describes how even as then-vice president Biden was publicly promoting a new “assault weapons” ban in the wake of the terrible crimes in Newtown, Conn., he was privately “instrumental” in convincing liberal Democrats it wasn’t feasible.
The bottom line is that whatever “truth” candidate Biden might be promoting about gun control on the campaign trail, gun owners should stick to the facts in deciding how to cast their votes.