VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. There was a modest increase in mass shootings, but neither the statistics nor causation is clear.
President Biden delivered a prime-time address to the nation in the wake of the mass shootings in a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, last month. In pushing for gun control, he repeated a claim he has made before: that the end of the “assault weapons” ban meant a tripling in mass shootings. Setting aside the question of what an “assault weapon” is, Biden’s claim has been fact-checked by the Washington Post — hardly a conservative outlet — and found to be lacking.
The Post fact-checked the statement, “When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down. When the law expired, mass shootings tripled.” The Post reported:
Biden claimed that mass shooting deaths tripled after the law expired. He appears to be relying on a study of mass shooting data from 1981 to 2017, published in 2019 in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery by a team led by Charles DiMaggio, a professor of surgery at New York University’s Langone Medical Center. That group found that an assault weapons ban would have prevented 314 out of 448, or 70 percent, of the mass shooting deaths during the years when the ban was not in effect. But the data used in that study has come under attack by some analysts.
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The new mass-shooting database shows that there were 31 mass shootings in the decade before the 1994 law, 31 in the 10 years the law was in force (Sept. 13, 1994 to Sept. 12, 2004) and 47 in the 10 years after it expired. As noted, some of that increase stems from population growth.
Earlier, the Post gave “Three Pinocchios” to the claim that the end of the assault weapons ban led to a rise in mass shootings. It has since revised that conclusion, given new data. “The body of research now increasingly suggests the 1994 law was effective in reducing mass-shooting deaths,” the Post concluded. Still, it left the claim “unrated,” because the evidence is inconclusive.
The claim mass shootings “tripled” after the end of the ban is based on one study, and is speculative at best.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.