Bill and Hillary Clinton just don’t draw like they used to. Shunned by much of his own party, (described by one Vanity Fair commentator as “2020’s bubonic plague”) the former president has been relegated to providing lazy commentary on the issues of the day. Such was the case this week when the would-be first gentleman penned an op-ed touting one of his presidential administration’s abject policy failures, the so-called “assault weapons” ban.
Enacted in 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the Clinton semi-auto ban prohibited several models of semi-automatic firearms by name and prohibited other commonly-owned semi-automatic firearms based on certain cosmetic characteristics. The measure also banned standard capacity magazines that could hold more than 10 rounds. The legislation contained a 10-year sunset provision and required the Department of Justice to study the efficacy of the ban. The ban was not renewed in 2004.
The ban was allowed to lapse because in infringed on the constitutional right of law-abiding Americans, and, more simply, it didn’t work. The primary focus of the ban was the prohibition on certain configurations of semi-automatic rifles. Rifles of any description are rarely used in crime. FBI Uniform Crime Reporting data shows that in 2017 there were nearly four times as many individuals listed as killed with “knives or cutting instruments,” than with any type of rifle. Rifles were also listed as being used in less homicides than “blunt objects (clubs, hammers, etc.)” or “personal weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)