I would like to know the answer to the question asked in the title of this post, so I was interested to see that Christopher Koper has recently published an article in the Journal of Urban Health: “Criminal Use of Assault Weapons and High-Capacity Semiautomatic Firearms: an Updated Examination of Local and National Sources.”
I thought I could assign the paper in my Sociology of Guns seminar in Spring 2018. But I have to confess that I have not read the entire article yet. In fact, I did not make it through the article’s introduction.
I got hung up on a passage which bothered me so much that I couldn’t read on.
Koper writes: “Semiautomatic weapons with LCMs and/or other military-style features . . . tend to produce more lethal and injurious outcomes when used in gun violence.” I did not realize that had been established in the scholarly literature (hence my being excited to read this article).
OK, so I check the citations for this statement. The citations should support the statement being made. Citation #2? Koper’s work assessing the effect of the federal assault weapons ban for the National Institute of Justice: “An Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003.” This work suggested that there was no clear effect of the AWB, but that there might have been an effect if it was in place longer and with fewer loopholes.
I do not know all of the scholarly literature on the topic — which is why I was excited to see Koper’s new article — but I do know that Gary Kleck has presented evidence suggesting that large capacity magazines do NOT produce more lethal outcomes (at least in mass shootings). The intentions of the person doing the murdering are more important.
This is in line with the paper by Koper on the relative hazards of revolvers vs. semi-auto pistols that I just discussed in my last post. Revolvers were nearly 60% more deadly than semi-autos in that study. Again suggesting that the intention of a person to do lethal harm to another may be key to understanding different outcomes, rather than the mechanism used (at least when comparing different types of firearms; remember: don’t bring a knife to a gunfight).
Which brings me to Citation #17, given by Koper to help support the assertion that “Semiautomatic weapons with LCMs and/or other military-style features . . . tend to produce more lethal and injurious outcomes when used in gun violence.”
Citation #17 is to the same study comparing the injuriousness and lethality of semi-auto pistols and revolvers that I discussed in my last post!!!
And you know from having read my last post that Koper’s earlier study that he cites here actually shows revolvers to be equally injurious to semi-auto pistols, AND MUCH MORE LETHAL.
I am still planning to read the rest of the article and possibly assign it in my class in the spring. I’m interested to see what it says and what my students think it says, which are often two different things.
Which is sadly all too true with much of the gun (violence) research used to advocate for public policies regulating guns and gun owners.