gun violence


by John R. Lott,  |  published on February 16, 2013

Warning that we need to “get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets,” in his State of the Union, Obama kept repeating congress must vote on the three types of gun bills he supports.

The most obvious thing that was left out of the talk was that none of the laws now being proposed would have done anything to stop the various attacks that Obama cited as justifying the laws. Nor does the evidence show that the previous Assault Weapon Ban from 1994 to 2004 reduced crime.

Were some of the killers mentally ill? Undoubtedly, “yes,” but none of these individuals had previously been involuntarily committed as a threat to themselves or to others.

Connecticut already had a strict assault weapon ban. But there is no proposed federal or state ban that would have mattered. Replacing a Bushmaster with a semi-automatic hunting rifle that fired the same small caliber .223 caliber bullets would have made absolutely no difference. The two guns would have fired the bullets with the same rapidity and would have done exactly the same damage.

Nor would it have made any difference to ban magazines that hold more than 10 bullets. Someone who is specifically planning an attack can take many magazines with them. Some of the killers have even worn vests with special pockets that allowed them to conveniently carry multiple magazines. A single large magazine is more of a convenience.

Actually large magazines pose a greater problem for those who want to kill many people because such magazines more easily jam. In a large magazine that holds many bullets, a very strong spring is required to be able to feed the last few bullets into the chamber. The problem is that springs weaken over time and springs in magazines that hold a large number of bullets lose some of their ability to push those last few bullets, thus causing the gun to jam. Guns jammed for this very reason during the Aurora and Tucson shootings.

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