Yesterday, Governor JB Pritzker signed and implemented the new Illinois assault weapons ban. With his signature, the law takes effect immediately and bans the sale of assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and rapid-fire devices. But will the ban actually save lives? No. No, it probably won’t. In short, weapons bans do not work because they are difficult to enforce, they do not address the root causes of violence, and they disproportionately impact law-abiding citizens while having little effect on criminals.
Enforcement of weapons bans is difficult because it requires identifying and confiscating a large number of weapons that are already in circulation. This is a costly and time-consuming process that would require a significant investment in personnel and resources. Additionally, bans on specific types of weapons would be difficult to enforce because of the ease with which weapons can be modified to circumvent the ban. For example, a ban on semi-automatic weapons could be circumvented by simply converting the weapon to automatic, or by using a device that simulates automatic fire.
Even if a weapons ban were able to effectively remove a particular type of weapon from circulation, it would not address the root causes of violence. Many people who commit violent acts do so as a result of underlying social, economic, or psychological issues. These underlying issues would still exist even if a particular type of weapon were not available. Additionally, criminals and those with malicious intent would likely find alternative means to carry out their violence. This is already seen in areas with strict gun control, which often see an increase in knife crime or the use of illegal firearms.
Additionally, weapons bans disproportionately impact law-abiding citizens who rely on firearms for self-defense and hunting, while having little effect on criminals who obtain weapons through illegal means. Criminals, by definition, do not obey laws, and would therefore not be deterred by a weapons ban. Instead, law-abiding citizens who follow the law lose some measure of protecting themselves and their families.
In addition, many of the countries that had implemented weapons bans have repealed them for reason that they are not effective.
Overall, while the idea of a weapons ban may be appealing as a solution to the problem of gun violence, the reality is that it is a complex issue that cannot be effectively addressed through a blanket ban on certain types of weapons. It would be much more effective to focus on addressing the root causes of violence and improving the mental health and criminal justice systems, while still protecting the rights of law-abiding citizens to own firearms.