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Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA., speaks on behalf of Xavier Becerra, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Leigh Vogel/Pool via AP)

Crimes committed with rifle-mounted grenade launchers are about as common in the United States as crimes committed with rifle-mounted bayonets. Even if someone decided to attach a grenade launcher to his rifle, he would have a hard time finding something to launch with it, since grenades are strictly regulated as “destructive devices” under federal law. The rest of the targeted features [under Feinstein’s latest “assault weapons” ban bill] likewise do not make a gun especially lethal: They have nothing to do with rate of fire, ammunition size, muzzle velocity, or muzzle energy.

President Joe Biden, who supports a new “assault weapon” ban, nevertheless concedes that the 1994 law had no impact on the lethality of legal firearms. The problem, according to Biden, was that manufacturers could comply with the law by “making minor modifications to their products—modifications that leave them just as deadly.” The new, supposedly improved ban does not solve that problem, which is unavoidable when politicians target guns based on arbitrary distinctions.

Yet Feinstein insists that the 1994 ban worked as intended, because mass shootings declined while it was in effect, then rose afterward. Even without dissecting her post hoc, ergo propter hoc reasoning or delving into the debate about mass shooting trends, it should suffice to point out that if Biden is right about the practical impact of the ban, Feinstein must be wrong. If that law left mass shooters with plenty of equally deadly alternatives (which it did), it is hard to see how it possibly could have obstructed them. Nor would the lack of a barrel shroud or a folding stock stand in their way in the unlikely event that Feinstein’s current bill is enacted.

— Jacob Sullum in Dianne Feinstein’s Latest ‘Assault Weapon’ Bill Is Just As Illogical As All the Previous Ones



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