Argument: The assault weapons ban is unnecessary; criminals prefer concealable hand guns

Issue Report: Assault weapons ban in the United States


  • Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police. – “Back in the early ’90s, criminals wanted those Rambo-type weapons they could brandish. Today they are much happier with a 9-millimeter handgun they can stick in their belt.”[1]
  • Timothy Wheeler. “Assault-Weapons Ban, R.I.P. Good riddance”. National Review Online. September 13, 2004 – “By – Gun crimes committed with ‘assault weapons’ won’t increase. Semiautomatic rifles never did catch on in a big way with career criminals, because they are too difficult to carry concealed. As a National Institute of Justice study noted in July, using a broad definition of the term, assault weapons were used in fewer than eight percent of gun crimes even before the ban. The firearm of choice for armed criminals has always been the high-quality handgun.”
  • “Assault Weapons Bans: A Solution in Search of a Problem”. Gun Owners of America. 1994 – “Assault Weapons Not the Choice of Criminals. When the gun control side has it pointed out to them that their sweeping “assault weapons” bans will disarm large numbers of voters, they usually come back with a more limited bill which affects a certain number of scary-looking firearms that they claim are the choice of criminals. Actually, police departments nationwide agree that criminals do not prefer these weapons:

    • Police View: Over 100,000 police officers delivered a message to Congress in 1990 stating that only 2% to 3% of crimes are committed using a so-called “assault weapon.” (16)
    • Florida study: In Florida, only 3.5% of the guns recovered by the police were guns that could loosely be defined as “assault weapons.” (17)
    • California study: The California Department of Justice suppressed an official report showing that “assault weapons” comprised only 3.7% of the guns used in crime. (18) While the report was eventually leaked to the media, it received little press coverage.
    • Virginia task force: A special task force on assault weapons found that only 2.8 percent of the homicides involved “assault-type weapons” during 1992. (19)
    • Connecticut: The Department of Public Safety reports that only 1.79% of all confiscated firearms were “assault type weapons.” (20)
    • New Jersey: The New York Times reported that, “Although New Jersey’s pioneering ban on military-style assault rifles was sold to the state as a crime-fighting measure, its impact on violence in the state . . . has been negligible, both sides agree.” (21) Moreover, New Jersey police statistics show that only .026 of 1 percent of all crimes involve “assault rifles.” (22)
    • Nationwide: The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 1993 that violent criminals only carry or use a “military-type gun” in about one percent of the crimes nationwide. (23)”