The Return Of The Clinton Semi-Auto Ban

posted on February 25, 2016

This feature appears in the March ’16 issue of NRA America’s 1st Freedom, one of the official journals of the National Rifle Association.

It’s now unanimous: All three Democratic presidential contenders—led by front-runner Hillary Clinton—are officially on public record calling for a federal ban on a broad class of semi-automatic firearms that they call “assault weapons.” 

Meanwhile, last December, U.S Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) introduced H.R. 4269, the Assault Weapons Ban of 2015, which would ban the manufacture of AR-15s and similar firearms. At press time, 123 Democrats, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had signed onto the legislation as co-sponsors. 

The questions that every gun owner—and everyone who cares about the Second Amendment-protected right to keep and bear arms—must confront right now are these:

 - Why do these anti-gun politicians want to ban firearms that are used in only a tiny percentage of murders or other violent crimes?

 - Why do these anti-gun politicians seek to deceive the American people about “assault weapons,” their capabilities and their exceedingly rare use in violent crimes?

 - If they’re willing to ban an entire class of firearms that they know will have no detectable impact on violent crime, what are these gun-haters’ true motives and objectives? Just what do they have in mind?

Whatever the answers to these questions might be, one fact is chillingly clear:

Whether or not you own a semi-automatic firearm of any kind, if you want to own any firearm for any lawful reason—or even if you just want to protect that freedom for future generations—the agenda of these anti-gun politicians should make you think, very clearly and very carefully, about what it is they seek to achieve, and what you and future generations stand to lose in the bargain.

Because this entire “assault weapons” hysteria is based on lies.

Let’s go through them.

First, since semi-automatic so-called “assault weapons” are used in such a tiny portion of crime, banning those firearms wouldn’t affect violent crime rates—even if criminals did obey gun bans.They don’t care if their gun bans don’t work to reduce crime [or] end up disarming good people and leaving them defenseless against criminals or even terrorists. In fact, it is increasingly apparent that that is the actual goal.

According to the FBI, less than 2.4 percent of all murders are committed with rifles of any kind—and so-called “assault weapons” are a subset of that number.

So it’s not surprising that even the Justice Department had to admit that Bill Clinton’s 1994 gun ban didn’t accomplish a thing. As even The New York Times had to acknowledge, that government study concluded, “Should [the assault weapons ban] be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best, and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.” 

That’s why, after a decade of accomplishing nothing that made us safer, that ban was allowed to “sunset” in September 2004.

It is important to note that H.R. 4269, like other federal “assault weapon” bills introduced over the last decade, would not simply “reinstate” the Clinton Gun Ban of 1994-2004. Gun control supporters have been using the word “reinstate” to mislead the American people into thinking they are proposing to renew the same ban that expired in 2004. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

The 1994 ban allowed manufacturers to produce AR-15 type firearms without flash suppressors and one or two other external features, and to make similar adjustments to other firearms. As a result, the number of AR-15s made and sold during the 10 years the ban was in effect was a quarter of a million greater than the number produced and sold during the preceding 10 years. Additionally, 50 million magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds were allowed to be imported while the ban was in effect. 

The proposed ban is much worse. It would prohibit the manufacture of most detachable-magazine semi-automatic rifles, numerous semi-automatic shotguns configured for defensive purposes, any semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine over 10 rounds (except for a tubular magazine .22LR), any semi-automatic pistol like the HK SP-89, any semi-automatic pistol with a fixed magazine over 10 rounds, revolving cylinder shotguns, various other named and described firearms, frames and receivers of banned guns, and ammunition magazines over 10 rounds, except those for tubular magazine .22 rimfire rifles. 

It’s a shame we have to hear the same lies today from the media and political class that we heard 11 years ago—and a decade before that—about America’s best-selling rifle. And it’s an outrage that we have to keep exposing their lies about semi-automatic firearms, decade after decade. But as it’s been said, eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.

So let’s set the record straight for the umpteenth time: The firearms that these anti-gunners want to ban are not more powerful than other firearms. They’re not machine guns. They can’t “spray bullets.” They’re not the “weapons of choice for criminals.” They’re not used in the majority of crimes—in fact, they’re rarely used in crimes. And regardless of what they look like, the firearms they want to ban are no different from any other firearm in America.

“Assault weapons” are not more deadly than any other firearms. In fact, the cartridges they typically shoot—the .223 Rem. or 5.56x45 mm, for example—are less powerful than those used in deer rifles that millions of hunters use every year. Indeed, some states ban the .223 for deer hunting because it’s not considered to be powerful enough.

So why do Hillary Clinton and company try to demonize and outlaw semi-automatic so-called “assault weapons”? In a word, the answer is cosmetics. To people who don’t know much about firearms, semi-automatic so-called “assault weapons” look scary. The AR-15, the semi-automatic Kalashnikov and the rest of the firearms they display for the cameras at their misleading and dishonest press events look like machine guns.

And that, in fact, is the whole point. 

The firearms that these anti-gunners want to ban are not more powerful than other firearms. They’re not machine guns. They can’t “spray bullets.” They’re not the “weapons of choice for criminals” … in fact, they’re rarely used in crimes.Ask Josh Sugarmann, who founded the anti-gun Violence Policy Center and invented the term “assault weapon.” As Sugarmann wrote in 1988: 

“The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.” 

But here’s the whole truth: Whether they’re gas-operated, like most AR-15 rifles ... or recoil-operated, like the Browning Auto-5 shotgun ... or blowback-operated, like the Ruger rimfire pistols or 10/22 rifle ... they all fire one shot—and only one shot—each time the trigger is pulled. So they can’t “spray bullets” as Clinton and the others like to claim.

Regardless of what they look like, they are not, and never will be, machine guns.

What’s more, after the original Clinton gun ban expired in 2004, AR-15s and similar semi-automatics became the hottest-selling rifles in America. According to the congressional newspaper The Hill, there are currently an estimated 8 to 9 million of these guns in the United States.

So ask yourself: Will Hillary Clinton and company be satisfied with a simple ban on the manufacture or sale of new semi-automatic rifles? Or once their ban proves fruitless, will they seek to eradicate the rifles already in private ownership?

On Oct. 16, 2015, Clinton gave us a glimpse of the brave new world she envisions for America, when she compared our nation to Australia, which banned, confiscated and destroyed at least 640,000 semi-automatic and pump-action rifles and shotguns in 1996. “I think it would be worth considering doing it on the national level if that could be arranged,” Clinton said of the forced confiscation and destruction program Down Under.

And it’s exceedingly clear, from her statements on the campaign trail, that Clinton doesn’t plan to let Congress stop her from pursuing her gun-ban agenda. She publicly admitted that to achieve her gun bans, she would go even further than Barack Obama in sidestepping Congress and short-circuiting the legislative process by using unilateral executive orders.

Think about what all this means in context. 

The gun-banners are not doing it for pragmatic reasons, because as the FBI’s statistics show (and the Justice Department’s study proves), banning so-called “assault weapons” won’t make anyone safer.

And they’re not doing it for political reasons, because as history shows, it won’t help them win elections—just the opposite. An ABC News/Washington Post poll released in December found that public support for banning these guns had dropped to the lowest level in 20 years, with a majority of Americans opposed to such a measure. So they’re not idiots—they’re ideologues. And they’re not only dishonest, they’re also deluded.

They’re apparently so consumed by their hatred of firearms and the freedom to own them that they’re willing to sacrifice the American people’s ability to defend themselves, and they believe doing so will enhance their own political careers, on the radical and frankly superstitious belief that “guns are bad.”

They don’t care if their gun bans don’t work to reduce crime. They don’t care if their gun bans end up disarming good people and leaving them defenseless against criminals or even terrorists. In fact, it is increasingly apparent that that is the actual goal.

In other words, in the final analysis, they want to wage an ideological war against the Second Amendment and our right to keep and bear arms, and they believe the American people will reward them for it.

And that might be the most frightening delusion of all.The gun-banners are not doing it for pragmatic reasons, because as the FBI’s statistics show (and the Justice Department’s study proves), banning so-called “assault weapons” won’t make anyone safer.

Think about where it leads: If Clinton and her fellow Democrats succeed in banning an entire class of firearms that are neither more powerful, nor more dangerous, nor more prevalent in the commission of crimes than any other firearm—what’s to prevent them from banning all firearms under equally empty and insidious means? 

What’s to prevent them from banning shotguns as terrifying “hand cannons whose projectiles are untraceable to investigators”?

What’s to prevent them from banning deer rifles as “ultra-powerful sniper weapons based on military rifles and capable of killing from a mile away”?

What’s to stop them from simply banning all firearms based on any invented criteria?

Once they’ve banned firearms for no good reason, finding better “reasons” to ban guns gets easier and easier as the slippery slope steepens. And once they get groups of gun owners fighting amongst themselves over whose guns are “legitimate,” whose guns are constitutionally protected and whose guns go over the transom—they’ve got us right where they want us in their divide-and-conquer strategy.

Join The Fight. Use Your Power!

Word-of-mouth information from a trusted individual is an extremely powerful tool, and nobody is better at it than the loyal members of the National Rifle Association. The work accomplished by grassroots members throughout the country in explaining so-called “assault weapons” to their families, friends and co-workers has resulted in a far greater understanding of semi-automatic firearms by everyday Americans than ever before.

In fact, a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll revealed that support for an “assault weapons” ban has dropped to its lowest level in two decades. According to the results, 53 percent are opposed to such a ban, while 45 percent support a ban. The poll was conducted shortly after husband-and-wife jihadists killed 14 people in a San Bernardino terror attack using exactly the same type of rifle targeted by the proposed ban.

If you want to help defend your rights and defeat these anti-gun zealots, continue spreading the word. Explain the fallacy of a new semi-auto ban to everyone who will listen. Share this magazine feature with those who don’t understand the issue. And direct friends and family members toward and this website, where they can get updated information from the front lines of the battle for the Second Amendment on a daily basis.

Just as important as stopping the semi-automatic ban is making sure Hillary Clinton never becomes president of the United States. Her propensity for half-truths and outright lies, combined with her disdain for the Second Amendment and law-abiding American gun owners, would prove disastrous for our right to keep and bear arms.

Explain to every gun owner you know the danger their constitutional right would face under a second Clinton presidency. And note that freedoms are far harder to regain once they are lost.

We must all get informed and get involved now, because our freedom needs your help. To find out how you can fight back as a part of NRA’s Grassroots Network, visit



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