On Thursday, the U.S. experienced yet another tragic shooting, this time in Raleigh, North Carolina. On Friday, the president of the United States seized on the incident to push a partisan agenda.
“We’ve grieved and prayed with too many families who have had to bear the terrible burden of these mass shootings,” Biden said Friday in response to the shooting, which reportedly left five dead including one off-duty police officer. “We must pass an assault weapons ban. The American people support this commonsense action to get weapons of war off our streets.”
But there’s one glaring problem with the president’s statement. He leapt to push a so-called “assault weapons” ban before anyone even knew what type of gun the shooter had used.
Now, CNN reports that a handgun and a “long gun” were used, with one witness claiming the long gun was a shotgun. (Not an “assault weapon”). Yet police haven’t actually confirmed specifically what firearms were used, as of this writing.
So, President Biden tried to capitalize on a tragedy by immediately pushing a partisan agenda that could very well have absolutely nothing to do with the actual incident in question. A shooting carried out with a handgun and a shotgun would be utterly unaffected by any form of “assault weapons” ban, after all.
This is distasteful, dishonest, and demagogic.
Of course, Biden likely feels forced to use these kinds of dishonest emotional appeals to advance his favored gun ban because the actual argument for it on the policy merits is so weak. After all, we already had a ban on “assault weapons” from 1994 to 2004, and experts nearly-unanimous agreed that it didn’t work.
A comprehensive research review by the RAND Corporation found “no qualifying studies showing that bans on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines decreased any of the eight outcomes we investigated,” which included the frequency of mass shootings and violent crime.
It’s pretty straightforward why an assault weapons ban wouldn’t actually work.
For one thing, the designation of an “assault weapon” is completely arbitrary, and essentially based on how scary the gun looks visually, not its actual lethality. Of course, then, such a ban wouldn’t make us safer. So, too, criminals inevitably ignored the ban, as it was largely law-abiding citizens who actually followed its edicts — and they weren’t the ones we needed protecting from.
Yup: the arguments for Biden’s favored gun control scheme are pretty weak indeed. But it’s still appalling that he would stoop so low as to baselessly politicize a tragedy to push it.
Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and co-founder of Based Politics. His work has been cited by top lawmakers, as well as by prominent media personalities. Brad has also testified before the U.S. Senate, appeared on Fox News and Fox Business, and written for publications such as USA Today, National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Beast. He hosts the “Breaking Boundaries” podcast and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.