Justice Department researchers have concluded that an assault weapons ban is “unlikely to have an effect on gun violence,” but President Obama has not accepted their report as his administration’s official position.
“Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence,” the DOJ’s National Institute for Justice explains in a January 4 report obtained by the National Rifle Association. “If coupled with a gun buyback and no exemptions then it could be effective.” That idea is also undermined by the acknowledgement that “a complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides.”
The research in that report didn’t stop Obama denouncing “weapons of war” during his State of the Union speech on February 12.
“It has been two months since Newtown,” Obama said over a month after the DOJ report was written. “I know this is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. But this time is different . . . Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because these police chiefs, they’re tired of seeing their guys and gals being outgunned.”
The NRA countered by hinting that Obama is paving the way for “mandatory gun confiscation,” but the DOJ denied that is the case.
“The Administration has never supported a gun registry or gun confiscation,” a DOJ official told Talking Points Memo, adding that the January 4 report does “not represent the position of the Department of Justice or the administration.”