by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Addressing the abominable news from Boulder, Colo., on Monday, President Biden acknowledged that he was “still waiting for more information regarding the shooter.” And then, without pausing for breath, he said it: “I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone an hour,” Biden affirmed, “to take commonsense steps that will save the lives in the future and to urge my colleagues in the House and Senate to act.”
With respect, Mr. President, you do.
In front of the cameras, Biden called upon the Senate to pass “universal background checks.” But Colorado, in which these killings took place, already has such a system — and, besides, the shooter bought his gun from a store, not privately, passing a background check in the process. Responding to Biden’s demand, Senator Marco Rubio was justifiably confused. “I just don’t understand why everybody keeps focusing on that,” Rubio said. “It wouldn’t have prevented any of these shootings.”
The president’s other ideas were just as ill-considered. As he confirmed once again, Biden hopes to prohibit the sale of certain cosmetically displeasing rifles and to ban magazines that are capable of holding more than ten rounds. But, as one of the architects of the now-expired 1994 “assault-weapons ban,” he should know better than that. Not only are so-called “assault weapons” used so infrequently in crimes that the FBI does not even keep statistics — rifles of all types, recall, are used less frequently as murder weapons than are hammers, fists, and knives — but the evidence that prohibiting them does anything of consequence is non-existent.
When, in 2004, the “assault-weapons” ban was up for renewal, a report issued by the Department of Justice submitted that “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.” Congress let it lapse, and, since then, the evidence has become no stronger.