But to Biden’s claim it lacks context. While it is true that mass shootings decreased after the passage of the federal assault weapons ban, and almost tripled after it was lifted, there is not enough evidence to support that there is a direct relationship between these data with the ban, according to research by the Justice Department y an analysis from the RAND think tank of the scientific evidence on the effects of the policies that regulate the use of weapons in the United States.
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There is no conclusive evidence of its effects, but it is not to say that the regulation of assault weapons does not work
We emailed the White House Press Office to ask where President Biden got this data. A spokeswoman responded to us, among other references, with information on the number of incidents with mass shootings Louis Klarevasa professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, gave Politifact in 2021. Klarevas is the author of the book on the subject called “ Rampage Nation”.
“During the decade of the federal assault weapons ban, there were 12 mass shootings with a high number of fatalities. That works out to an average of 1.2 incidents per year,” he said. Klarevas a Politifact in 2021, citing data described in his book.
“In the 16.5 years since the expiration of the federal ban, there have been 62 mass shootings with a high number of fatalities. That works out to an average of 3.8 incidents per year,” he concluded.
The Klarevas data shows a coincidence between the federal assault weapons ban going into effect and a drop in the number of incidents over the subsequent decade, as well as a nearly threefold increase in these events when the ban was lifted.
And just on May 26, the day after President Biden tweeted, Klarevas was more specific. in an article which he published on the website of his academic center:
“A ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines with more than 10 rounds has been shown to significantly reduce the frequency and lethality of mass shootings. Specifically, when the federal ban on assault weapons was in effect from 1994 to 2004, mass shootings involving firearms that caused six or more deaths fell by more than a third. They nearly tripled after the ban expired,” he wrote.
But the same Justice Department investigation concluded, on the other hand, that, due to exemptions for guns and magazines manufactured before the law that included the ban went into effect, “ the effects are still developing and may not be fully felt for several years in the future”.
And, in addition, the research showed that the decrease in mass shootings during the period in which the ban lasted coincided with an overall drop in gun violence in the United States and that prohibition cannot be “clearly credited.”
“We don’t think there are any large studies available yet to establish the effectiveness of assault weapons bans,” said Andrew Morral, a scientist who led the aforementioned RAND study, a FactCheck.org in 2021.
“That does not mean that they are not effective. The research we reviewed does not provide compelling evidence one way or the other,” she added.
The effect of the assault weapons ban was gradual
Among other things, the law prohibited the manufacture, transfer and possession of certain assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, but exempted weapons and magazines manufactured before the law went into effect – around 1.5 million assault weapons and 25 million magazines, according to estimates included in the Justice Department investigation.
That huge number of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, along with other exemptions, made their effect felt in a gradual way and is one of the reasons why the decline during the ten years of validity was not very large compared to with the previous decade.
Another challenge is that there is no universal definition of a mass shooting.. The figures cited by Professor Louis Klarevas, for example, include massacres of at least six people, while a study of the New York University School of Medicine of 2019 has at least four people.
Biden did not refer in his tweet to the number of victims of the mass shootings
The White House spokeswoman referred to this other New York University investigation when we asked where Biden got the data for his tweet. But 2019 study refers to The deaths in mass shootings, a precision that the president did not make in your messagein which he only mentioned the events with mass shootings, not the number of victims.
This research concludes that “mass shooting-related homicides in the United States declined during the years of the federal assault weapons ban, between 1994 and 2004.”
Politifact had access to the data used by Charles Di Maggio, the main epidemiologist of this study, and reported – in a verification of the Biden message on Twitter – that “the number of deaths from mass shootings went from an average of 4.8 per year during the years from prohibition to an average of 23.8 per year in the subsequent decade.”
Biden posted on his Twitter account on May 25 that mass shootings decreased after the federal assault weapons ban was passed in 1994 and tripled when it was not renewed (starting in 2004). But to that statement it lacks context, because although it is true that these events decreased during the 10 years that this rule was in force, it has not been established that it was the direct cause of this decrease, which, moreover, coincided with a general decrease in violence with weapons in the country, according to the Department of Justice. It’s also true that mass shootings have tripled since the assault weapons ban expired, but there’s also not enough conclusive evidence to determine a direct relationship between the direct cause, according to the Justice Department y from the RAND think tank. Read here how we choose and assign our labels in the Detector.
Email from the spokeswoman for the White House Press Office. May 25, 2022.
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