Newest piece in the WSJ: "The Facts About Assault Weapons and Crime"

Correction noted here.

My piece starts this way:
Warning about "weapons designed for the theater of war," President Obama on Wednesday called for immediate action on a new Federal Assault Weapons Ban. He said that "more of our fellow Americans might still be alive" if the original assault weapons ban, passed in 1994, had not expired in 2004. Last month, in the wake of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) promised to introduce an updated version of the ban. She too warned of the threat posed by "military weapons." 
After the nightmare of Newtown, their concern is understandable. Yet despite being at the center of the gun-control debate for decades, neither President Obama nor Ms. Feinstein (the author of the 1994 legislation) seems to understand the leading research on the effects of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. In addition, they continue to mislabel the weapons they seek to ban. . . .
Copies of the studies discussed are here and here.  Feinstein's website is here.

On the most read list:

The WSJ published two letters on my op-ed.
Many thanks to John R. Lott Jr. ("The Facts About Assault Weapons and Crime," op-ed, Jan. 18). The arbitrary designation of "assault weapon" masks true capabilities and limitations among disparate weapons. As a former Marine, I learned the hard way which guns were most dangerous while battling the Taliban in Afghanistan. Insurgents with assault weapons such as AK-47s were easily dealt with, while the most dangerous rifle encountered was the British-made Lee-Enfield caliber .303 that could fire accurately from more than six-hundred meters away. They were traditional, wood-stocked, hunting-style rifles, bolt action, and many over a hundred years old.
Daniel Barbeau
Irvine, Calif.
Another day, another opinion article bemoaning the likely ineffectiveness of proposed gun legislation. John Lott bases his argument on the fact that the previous Federal Assault Weapons Ban barely affected the murder rate. Of course it didn't, for two reasons. Most murders are committed using handguns, and it wasn't a ban on the weapons, it simply banned the sale of new ones. The Australians understood this, which is why, after their own horrific mass killing, they not only banned the sale of these weapons, they also banned ownership, and financed a buyback program. And the result—no new mass killings in 17 years—has been what they hoped for.
Most of your contributors decry the proposed legislation without proposing an alternative. To his credit, Mr. Lott has an alternative, and it is chilling: citizens armed with semiautomatic weapons literally everywhere. I have been to countries where there are armed guards at every building, and I have been to ones where even the police don't normally carry weapons. I know where I feel safer.
Martin Herrington

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Blogger Unknown said...

Although I am in complete agreement about the previous assault weapons ban, I disagree a bit about AWs being a simple hunting rifles. They are well suited for a high rate of fire which works well for killing people and hunting varmint from a fixed position. However, most hunters would opt for a lighter bolt-action. It is worth noting that nearly every bolt action used in hunting is designed based on past military technology.

Semi-auto and full-auto assault rifles have been around for awhile now, it is no surprise that the technology has trickled down to hunters and target shooters. I personally chose an AR15 because it is more modular and adaptable than a bolt action rifle.

Keep up the good work!

1/18/2013 1:13 AM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Bonfe roni:
Thank you. There are two types of hunting rifles: semi-auto and bolt action. I hoped that I had made that clear when I wrote: "Semiautomatic weapons also protect people and save lives. Single-shot rifles that require you to physically reload the gun may not do people a lot of good when they are facing multiple criminals or when their first shot misses or fails to stop an attacker." Other places also tried to make the point that there are semi-auto hunting rifles.

1/18/2013 2:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John your WSJ article was excellent but inaccurate in one fact. According to several quietly released media reports and after looking at the crimescene video Adam Lanza used 4 handguns and no rifle in his attack. And the video of the cop clearing the weapon in Adam's car it is obviously a Saiga 12 type shotgun! There is a deliberate coverup going on here to use this tragedy to further restrict our 2A rights!

1/18/2013 8:58 AM  
Blogger Martin G. Schalz said...

Dear Dr. Lott. There are more than just two types of hunting rifles.

Repeating action rifles come to mind here. Be they lever or slide action. Most will be of the tubular magazine type, but there are those with detachable box magazines.

It all started withe the Spencer repeating rifle in 1860, and not the Henry rifle as that was introduced shortly after the Spencer. Hence the Confederates calling them "that damned Yankee rifle that they load on Sunday and shoot all week!"

1/18/2013 1:22 PM  
Blogger FZ said...

Dear Martin, Dr. Lott means two *basic* types of hunting rifles, yes, there are a few variations on the two, but the *basic* idea remains the same. Repeat action would be considered a semi-auto. Just like there are many varieties of apples, but they are all still just apples.

Also, I like how that second letter basically makes the point for us. Pointing out why the "assault weapon" ban didn't work does not change the fact that it didn't!

Then he tries to cite Australia as a place whose "better" ban worked, but in fact as pointed out by others it actually didn't. And we do have an alternative to a ban, Mr. Letter Writer, how about going after the bad guys and empowering the good ones? Dr. Lott actually wrote a book advocating just that, sheesh. And gun laws should be enacted based on whether they work or not, not because of your 'feelings', Mr. Letter Writer.

2/05/2013 5:25 AM  
Blogger Martin G. Schalz said...

FZ: Auto loaders are a whole different animal. Repeaters cycle slower than an auto loading gun.

This, in and of itself may become an excuse for some anti-gunners to use.

2/06/2013 12:19 PM  

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