Jacob Sullum

Given the fraudulent rationale for the "assault weapon" ban, it's not surprising that the NIJ study found little evidence the law had reduced gun violence. "Should it be renewed," University of Pennsylvania criminologist Christopher Koper and his co-authors concluded, "the ban's effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement."

That was so even when taking into account another aspect of the law that Obama wants to restore: its ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. While it is debatable whether the few seconds it takes to switch magazines or guns makes an important difference in attacks on moviegoers in a darkened theater or on first-graders in an elementary school, Lanza did use 30-round magazines, and this restriction at least looks like a relevant response to mass shootings.

So many large-capacity magazines are already in circulation, however, that it's hard to see how reinstating this ban would stop a determined killer from obtaining them. Even when the ban was in force, Koper found, there was "an immense stock" of about 30 million such magazines, and the number surely has risen since then.

Likewise, with around 300 million guns in circulation, there is not much that new laws can do to prevent a man bent on slaughtering innocents from obtaining one. The understandable grief and anger provoked by the Sandy Hook massacre does not change that unavoidable reality.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @jacobsullum. To find out more about Jacob Sullum and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
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