Gun Display Stands. Pistols for sale in the store.
Gun Display Stands. Getty Images.

News and Analysis

 A Look Back On Three Gun Control Laws That Were Ultimately Ineffective

In light of the recent tragic mass shooting in Nashville, many grieving Americans find themselves inundated with anti-gun rhetoric from the legacy media and politicians alike.

Whether it’s a ban on “assault weapons,” magazine capacity restrictions, or increased licensing requirements, President Biden and the Left have been increasingly open about their desire to restrict access to firearms.

But will new gun control measures actually do anything to curtail gun-related homicide rates? A look back at past legislation can help answer that question.

Here are three major gun control measures, and how they turned out.

The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 

Also known as the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 was a subsection of a larger crime bill signed into law by former President Bill Clinton. The bill was largely motivated by an increasing amount of violent crime in the United States.

The law prohibited the selling, manufacturing, importation and transfer of specific semi-automatic firearms characterized as “assault weapons.”

The ban included a sunset provision, meaning it phased out in 2004 after President George W. Bush declined to renew it.

Despite all of the regulations, limitations and conditions inherent in the bill, numerous studies in subsequent years have shown the ban to have been largely ineffective.

In a 2017 review from JAMA Internal Medicine titled “Firearm Laws and Firearm Homicides: A Systematic Review,” it was concluded that “Limited data from 4 studies on the effects of the federal assault weapons ban (in effect from 1994 to 2004) do not provide evidence that the ban was associated with a significant decrease in firearm homicides.”

Arriving at a similar conclusion was Grant Duwe, the director of research and evaluation for the Minnesota Department of Corrections. In a 2019 study titled, Criminology & Public Policy, Duwe found that after adjusting for population growth, it was not apparent that the assault weapons ban had any impact on the number of public mass shootings.

During the fifth year of the ban being in effect, one of the most infamous mass shootings in United States history occurred, the Columbine massacre. On April 20, 1999, two high school seniors entered Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and mercilessly ended the lives of 12 students and one teacher, injuring 21 others in the process.

One of the weapons used in the Columbine shooting was a TEC-9, a weapon specifically banned by name in the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, thus further proving the ban was ineffective to criminals who refuse to acknowledge the law.

The Brady Act

Named after former White House Press Secretary James Brady who was left paralyzed after being shot in the head by John Hinckley Jr. in the assassination attempt of former President Ronald Reagan, The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act required a federal background check before any handgun was sold from a federally licensed dealer, manufacturer or importer in 32 states.

In addition, when the bill was originally passed in 1993 it required a five-day waiting period on handgun purchases. This remained the case for five years until the National Instant Background Check System was implemented in 1998.

Just before signing the Act into law, President Bill Clinton expressed his optimism, saying, “When I go and sign this bill in a minute, it will be step one in taking our streets back, taking our children back, reclaiming our families and our future.”

Despite this, various studies show the bill — similar to the assault weapons ban — was largely ineffective.

A widely cited study conducted by Jens Ludwig and Phillip J. Cook titled, “The Limited Impact of the Brady Act – No Evidence of Reduction in Deaths” found no evidence of a reduction in homicides after the act was put into effect.

Phillip J. Cook, co-author of the study, explained in a Charlotte Observer article that when comparing the 32 states who implemented the Brady Bill to the 18 that did not, no significant difference in homicide reduction presented itself in the data.

Some gun-control advocates have challenged the study’s conclusion by mentioning a slight decrease in the number of annual gun-related deaths, to which researchers have responded, “While it is possible that the Brady Act has thus contributed to the nationwide reduction in gun violence, the evidence is sketchy at best. The fact is that homicide rates already started to decline in 1991, before the Brady Act became law. Various reasons have been offered for this decline, more cops, more prisons, a better economy and an easing of the crack epidemic are all plausible explanations.”

The Various Laws of Illinois

Despite having some of the strictest gun laws in the country, the state of Illinois, especially Chicago, is subject to some of the worst homicide rates in America. As a result, gun crime in Chicago is frequently cited by opponents of gun control as proof that restricting firearms doesn’t necessarily solve the problem of gun violence.

Illinois is one of the few states that requires residents to obtain a “Firearms Owners Identification Card” (FOID) from state police if they want to own a firearm or ammunition of any kind. In addition, “assault weapons” are banned in certain areas of the state, and mandatory wait times of up to 72 hours are required for most firearms purchases.

Illinois’ gun legislation has been so strict that at times the Supreme Court has had to intervene. In 1982, for example, the city of Chicago banned the possession of handguns by civilians. It wasn’t until 2010, when the Supreme Court ruled the ban unconstitutional in McDonald vs. City of Chicago, that residents were once again allowed to own them.

Despite all of the regulations that are still actively enforced, violence has consistently been a major problem for the state.

According to CBS Chicago, out of all cities in the United States, Chicago has had the most mass shootings over the last four years. They report that since 2018 the city has seen 811 injuries and fatalities.

Another local news outlet, ABC 7 Chicago, reports that in 2020, Chicago saw 769 murders and 3,261 shootings. Both of these numbers were up significantly compared to 2019, which saw 495 murders and 2,140 shootings.

Considering these sobering numbers, the common pattern that follows gun legislation is that in a realistic world, it doesn’t do what it is supposed to. If criminals were to abide by and care for the law, they wouldn’t commit violent crime, and the country wouldn’t need gun restrictions at all.

Instead of trying old tricks that have time and time again proven themselves ineffective, America should take a deeper look into what is driving killers. Only then will we be able to understand the problem and turn the tide.

Jacob Falach is an associate producer at The Daily Wire. You can find him on Instagram at @thatjewishconservative.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire. 

Create Free Account

Continue reading this exclusive article and join the conversation, plus watch free videos on DW+

Already a member?

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >   A Look Back On Three Gun Control Laws That Were Ultimately Ineffective