School shootings rightly elicit anger and sadness from the public. Many people and lawmakers want to work to prevent such  tragic events from happening in the future. In the aftermath, there is plenty of rhetoric and data to go around, but many of the details cited can be misleading. Lawmakers and news reports often focus on the type of weapon used by mass shooters. This story in the Austin American Statesman, suggests that AR-15 rifles are responsible for more mass shootings than they are. And President Biden recently claimed that we need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. But is that true?

“We need to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”
President Joe Biden

False. Completely make believe.

A ban on any type of lightweight semi-automatic rifle or high-capacity magazines will not end school shootings. In fact, Congress already tried that approach in 1994 with the “Assault Weapons Ban”. Yet, a recent study in the LA Times found it did not reduce crime. The LA Times author even noted, “if a new ban passes and it’s anything like the old one, millions of Americans would be able to legally obtain substantially the same guns we can buy today, but we’ll just have to buy them in pieces.”

Many news outlets have also focused on AR-15-style rifles, claiming that those firearms are often used in mass shootings or that they are the weapon of choice for mass shooters. But that depends on what the definition of “often” is, and what the definition of “weapon of choice” is. 

According to Statista, pistols are most often used in mass shootings. To be sure, mass murder by any method is horrific. But when misleading information is used as justification for passing laws, it’s important to set the record straight.

So why are many states, and many members of Congress, talking about banning AR-15 style rifles? When a solution doesn’t work, why try to implement it again? The only answer is that it’s politics.