There is no denying that the AR-15 — an open-source, modular weapon platform that’s the fruit of many tens of billions of private and public dollars in small arms research and almost six decades of innovation — is the most easy to use and the most lethal gun available to civilians. Those of us who defend the 2nd Amendment right to own guns must reckon with this technological reality.
But we can’t find common ground with gun safety advocates as long as they use shoddy arguments and manipulated statistics to cloud the debate. A case in point is the widely cited work of Louis Klarevas, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston whose 2016 book, “Rampage Nation: Security America From Mass Shootings,” has lately bolstered calls for a renewal of the 1994 assault weapons ban, which lapsed in 2004. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) gave President Trump a bar chart attributed to Klarevas at Wednesday’s guns roundtable.
Until Klarevas came along, virtually all researchers had concluded that it was impossible to discern what, if any, positive effect the ban’s prohibition of rifles with “military-style features” had on crime or mass shooting incidents. This is why many gun-control advocacy groups, including Sandy Hook Promise, do not include a ban on their list of legislative priorities. The last ban was politically costly for Democrats and, as a ProPublica investigation reported in 2014, gun control experts said there was no evidence it saved lives.