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Source: USA Today, Opposing view: Eliminate 'gun-free zone' regulations

Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, made a claim:

During the decade of the Clinton ban on semiautomatic rifles (the so-called assault weapons) and high-capacity magazines, crime did not go down. 

Question is, during the decade of the Clinton ban on semiautomatic rifles (the so-called assault weapons) and high-capacity magazines, did crime not go down?

  • Probably the best first question to ask here is, what type of crime. I mean, embezzlement doesn't usually involve guns at all (much less 'assault weapons'), so I wouldn't expect it to change that much. – Clockwork-Muse Jan 18 '13 at 18:18
  • Yes @Clock, you are right, but, if any, do not forget to vote up the question, though. And, if you like, improve the question the way you can understand it. Thank you. – Carlo Alterego Jan 18 '13 at 18:24
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    Also, correllation!= causation – user5341 Jan 18 '13 at 18:35
  • There's definitely a lot implied in the claim's phrasing, but fundamentally the claim is the factual "during period X, crime did not go down," which @Tacroy refutes in his answer. – Larry OBrien Jan 18 '13 at 20:06
  • I think the most important thing to consider is did gun crime go down -- or better yet, crime involving the banned weapons? – Gabe Jun 30 '14 at 0:37
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Claiming that "crime" (presumably violent crime, since that's the sort of crime in which banning assault weapons would matter) did not go down in the period between 1994 and 2004 (the time of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, the "Clinton ban") is flat out wrong. That's easily seen by looking on the FBI or DOJ websites, because they freely host tables of crime statistics.

Comparing the FBI's listing of the violent crime rate between the two time points, we find that the violent crime rate in 1994 was 713.6, and by 2004 it was 463.2. That is definitely a motion in a downward direction.

So, yes, crime rates did go down between 1994 and 2004. However, this probably has very little to do with the Federal Assault Weapons Ban; looking at almost any graph of crime rates will show that general crime rates peaked in the early '90s before the ban, and have continued to fall even after the ban was lifted.

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    you say assault rifles, but those were banned in 1986 and still are banned, I presume you meant assault weapon. – Ryathal Jan 18 '13 at 20:05
  • @Ryathal Yep you're right, I was just typing quickly. It makes me furious when people claim crime rates are still high despite the numbers being right there, so I missed a few details :) – Tacroy Jan 18 '13 at 22:09
  • this probably has very little to do with the Federal Assault Weapons Ban — you don't know that; that claim is very hard to prove or disprove... – gerrit Jan 18 '13 at 22:43
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    @gerrit Then it's a good thing I said "probably", isn't it? I only mentioned that because it's almost certainly what the author of the quote meant to write, but didn't because nuance and complexity are for losers who don't got an article due by 6 PM. – Tacroy Jan 18 '13 at 22:53
  • Yes the cause of that decline is one of the great mysteries of modern american politics (and the source of much debate). – RBarryYoung Aug 5 '14 at 16:18

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