Gun crime expert tells Vermont lawmakers ‘no crime-reducing benefit’ to assault weapons ban

A leading gun crime statistics analyst told a committee of Vermont senators that their latest bill to ban certain types of “assault rifles” would have no benefit in reducing crime.

Earlier this month, John Lott, an economist, political commentator and gun rights advocate, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the history of past assault weapons bans in the United States.

John R. Lott, Jr.

“There are a few points I would like to make — one is that rifles are very rarely used in the crime,” he said.

Lott noted that America already tried a decade-long assault weapons ban, but had questionable results.

Rarely used in crimes

In Vermont during the years 2017 to 2021, only two murders were committed with a rifle, according to FBI data. Nationally, about 2% of all murders involve rifles.

On the topic of mass shootings, 58% involve only handguns; 14% involve rifles of any variety. “So obviously purely assault weapons are just a fraction of that,” Lott said.

Mass shootings with the highest casualty rates are ones that involve multiple weapons.

Historically bans haven’t worked

Public domain

BANNING SCARY LOOKING GUNS: A national gun rights advocate says the term “assault rifle” is vague in meaning, and that bans of such guns in the past have had no meaningful impact on their use in crime.

Academic research has been conducted on the assault weapons ban implemented nationwide from 1994 to 2004. Lott said the research is clear in what it shows.

“Essentially, it finds overwhelmingly no crime-reducing benefit from those bans,” he said. “… Even research the Clinton administration funded, which put the assault weapons ban in effect —  such as by Koper and Roth in their 1997 report for the National Institute of Justice or their follow-up report in 2004 — could find no statistically significant benefit for an assault weapons ban.”

If the goal of assault weapons bans is to have them used in fewer crimes, historical evidence shows not only that the attempted assault weapons ban failed, but it led to an increase in their use in crimes.

“Which is the exact opposite of what you’d predict if you thought the assault weapons ban was relevant,” Lott said.

‘Assault weapon’ a dubious term

According to Lott, there continues to be no legally meaningful definition of the term “assault weapon.”

“Even the Associated Press last year in its highly influential style book essentially said that the term ‘assault weapon’ is nonsensical,” Lott said. He went on to say that the AP said it “had little meaning” and “is highly politicized.”

He added that no military in the world uses the so-called assault weapons in question by Vermont lawmakers.

He noted that the phrase seems to have originated from “military-style weapons” and that the word “style” should be emphasized because that’s the only similarity in these otherwise fundamentally different guns.

“There are other rifles out there that are functionally identical, firing the same bullets at the same rapidity, doing the exact same damage, that don’t fall under the so-called assault weapons label,” he said.

Dr. John Lott’s testimony can be viewed online here (starts at 21:00).

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of Public domain

29 thoughts on “Gun crime expert tells Vermont lawmakers ‘no crime-reducing benefit’ to assault weapons ban

  1. I confess. I have an assault rifle. It is a British Enfield bolt action rifle. It has a ten-round magazine and fires the .303 Cartridge and was used throughout WW2. It has to be an assault rifle because that is why it was designed and how it was employed. It has a really scary bayonet lug. I am sure that Senator Baruth and his mind numbed acolytes will move now to immediately to include all military grade weapons in the definition of assault rifles. The Armalite Rifle (AR-15), on the other hand was neither designed for, nor intended to be used as an assault weapon. The General Assembly’s supermajority never fails to illustrate just how clueless, feckless, and useless it is

    • Well, if you have an Enfield….I have seen deer rifles in VT converted from a classic Springfield 03′ model, bolt action 30-06. It was military used for many decades as solid, dependable & very accurate. I have also seen classic & well engineered German Mauser’s also used/converted into deer rifles. I never saw that many “assault weapons” used as deer rifles…I saw mostly others. The Winchester Model 94′ 30-30 (lever action) was very popular deer rifle many, many years back.. So it seems that all the above rifles qualify as “assault”…so must be banned? Yet, a Glock pistol with a 17 round magazine is very easily concealed – and just as deadly as any “assault” one. If you ban supposed “assault” rifles…bad people, criminals etc… will easily & illegally buy a concealable 17 round Glock – to do whatever murder/mayhem a bad, criminal or deranged person desires. FYI…many drug dealers have TWO businesses….selling drugs – and/or illegal guns. They go hand in hand, with good profits….And Glock’s are a specialty $$$.

    • The AR15 was on the civilian market long before that particular style of rifle was adapted by the military.

  2. 1 – Eleven teens die each day because of texting while driving. Maybe it’s time to raise the age of Smart Phone ownership to 21. (FACT)

    2 – If gun control laws actually worked, Chicago would be Mayberry, USA

    3 – The Second Amendment makes more women equal than the entire feminist movement.

    4 – Legal gun owners have 300 million guns and probably a trillion rounds of ammo. Seriously, folks, if we were the problem, you’d know it.

    5 – When JFK was killed, nobody blamed the rifle.

    6 – The NRA (National Rifle Association) murders 0 people and receives ($$$$ 0) nothing in government funds. Planned Parenthood kills 350,000 babies every year and receives $500,000,000 in tax dollars annually.

    7 – I have no problem with vigorous background checks when it comes to firearms. While we’re at it, let’s do the same when it comes to immigration, Voter I.D., and candidates running for office.

    8 – Folks keep talking about another Civil War. One side knows how to shoot and probably has a trillion rounds. The other side has crying closets and is confused about which bathroom to use. How do you think that would work out?
    9 A man who left 300,000 guns for the Taliban is lecturing folks on gun control.

    Don’t be afraid to share this, as I am doing now. There’s more logic and common sense expressed here than probably anything you have seen on the news today.

    • Very well states, Neil. The only problem is that gun grabbers are not going to let truth interfere in their insane agenda to make America a third world country run by criminal gangs

    • Exactly. If you look at many of the murders in VT they all circle around DRUGS….the dealers are largely minority out of state transplants doing evil. The flip side is that the drug addicts need money and often turn to criminal activity for drug money…sometimes violent. So why doesn’t VT put the legal hammer down on drug dealers and make sure that drug users know that police are aware. I was told by a Barre cop that they know every heavy drug user in the city…where they live, who they buy from and how they get money. But without “probable cause”, their hands are tied to do anything to stop it.

      Fight DRUG dalers and VT murder rate will decline. And FYI, you Liberal Ignorant Dopes. HOW MANY DRUG DEALERS WALK AROUND WITH AN ASSAULT RIFLE , OR DRIVE AROUND WITH THEM? Answer? Few, if any. The murder/mayhem weapon of choice for almost every drug dealer is a Glock 9 mm pistol with a 17 round magazine. So go ahead Ignorant Liberal Dopes and ban assault rifles…it will not do much of anything to VT’s murder rates…so often DRUG related…. drug dealers will laugh . They basically don’t carry them. They carry GLOCK pistols hidden, with 17 rounds 🙂

      You just can’t fix stupid liberals

      • If they can’t define what a so-called assault rifle is, how can they ban it? Not only that, the recent 2022 Supreme Court decision makes such an act unconstitutional, they do not have the authority to ban arms in common use. If they are targeting the Armalite (AR) 15, there are more of them in America than Ford F150 Trucks. There are Thousands of them in Vermont and New Hampshire combined. Government has banned illegal drugs, didn’t work and created a black-market criminal culture, alcohol was banned, and an organized crime culture was created until repealed. Now, as an end run around the VT and US constitution these overlords believe if they pass a feel-good prohibition that guns will disappear, and criminals will obey. My guns have never assaulted anyone so how can they be assault weapons?

  3. Before this legislature tries an end run around the US and Vermont constitution, they should read the latest Supreme Court decision. These overlords here in tiny Vermont do not have the authority to ban firearms in current use throughout the country. In fact, the current so-called high-capacity magazine ban is unconstitutional. The Senate just pulled their effort to ban 18 to 21 years olds from owning semi-auto firearms because someone finally read the Supreme Court decision. Baruth and his anti-American supporters are like Alice in Wonderland. They have no idea how one-gun from others looks like or operates. Across the river in New Hampshire there are thousands of the same guns these idiots think will just disappear if they pass a law. These people are high on ego and low on intelligence. They all have violated their oaths of office and would be recalled if they didn’t already control everything. What they fail to understand is that we, the people run the government and they serve at our pleasure. All signs point to their removal from office in the next election. Vermont will not be recognizable when they are done, and the people will take notice. Remember Mitsie Johnson former speaker of the house. She’s no longer hurting Vermonters because she was voted out. That’s exactly what needs to happen with this group of grifters.

  4. Donald L. Cline: A State government that exercises any power prohibited to it by the Constitution of the United States as amended is by definition a rogue occupation government and criminal regime. Its authority is null and void and no one is bound by any rule of law to obey its prohibited color of law.

    Mao Zedong: “All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The Communist Party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the Party”.

  5. Ignore these unconstitutional laws that are being passed. Don’t voluntarily give up your rights. When we obey unconstitutional laws and legitimize them, we are handing them our rights. Make them use force to make us obey. It’s the only way to expose them.

    Supreme Court Decision – Norton v Shelby County 1886

    6 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d, Sec 256:
    The general misconception is that any statute passed by legislators bearing the appearance of law constitutes the law of the land. The US. Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and any statute, to be valid, must be In agreement. It is impossible for both the Constitution and a law violating it to be valid; one must prevail. This is succinctly stated as follows:
    The General rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose, since unconstitutionality dates from the time of its enactment and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it. An unconstitutional law, in legal contemplation, is as inoperative as if it had never been passed. Such a statute leaves the question that it purports to settle just as it would be had the statute not been enacted. Since an unconstitutional law is void, the general principles follow that it imposes no duties, confers no rights, creates no office, bestows no power or authority on anyone, affords no protection, and justifies no acts performed under it.… A void act cannot be legally consistent with a valid one. An unconstitutional law cannot operate to supersede any existing valid law. Indeed, insofar as a statute runs counter to the fundamental law of the lend, it is superseded thereby. No one Is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it. The Supreme Court’s decision is as follows; “An unconstitutional act is not law; it confers no rights; it imposes no duties; affords no protection; it creates no office; it in legal contemplation, as inoperative as though it has never been passed”. Norton vs Shelby County 1886 – 118 US 425 p.442.

    Thomas Jefferson: “Whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, it’s acts are authoritative, void and of no force”.

  6. I agree the elite shouldn’t be protected with assault weapons since their private cops and municipal cops and feds are primarily the only ones who have them. A few fully licensed do but their names are on a federal register. The ignorant really just want to ban the scary looking AR-15 because it looks similar to but not like a M-16. I know of no nation who uses a AR-15 as a primary weapon. The majority of shootings using the 15 have been in Gun Free Zones which are primarily Free Shooting Zones, the ignorant left can’t seem to see the correlation in their failed idea that criminals follow the law or signs.

  7. They can ban assault weapons. Only the military and a few police forces have them. Do they plan on going down to the NG facilities and collecting them? — Civilians do not and cannot have one. If we could reason with liberals or commies, they would understand this. And if we could reason with them, they would not be liberals.

      • An assault weapon can be any object used to inflict harm or injury upon another person. Hit someone with a Louisville slugger, (that’s a baseball bat for liberals) or a hammer, (like the one used on Paul Pelosi) and they become assault weapons. Any attorney should know this, and so should the legislative council. If they are planning on banning assault weapons, they will have to list each and every part and mechanism that makes it an assault weapon just as the federal attorney just did in Illinois. The professor from Gilligan’s Island is in over his head. He teaches English to people who already know how to speak English and gets paid.

  8. People that want to kill are going to do this..
    We only need to look at Europe where they stab, throw acid, and drive white vans into crowds of people.

    Neil is right, this is about disarming our nation in any way they can get away with it.

    I’ve talked to a few gun carrying Democrats that do not agree with this any more than the right does.
    It would be nice if these people could rise up and reel in their own party.
    It’s not like it’s only one side that owns some 500M guns.

  9. Here we go again, more foolishness from the bleeding-heart leftist in Montpelier, this
    is what happens when you have transplants in charge, with no common sense all they
    do is follow an agenda.

    Vermont is one, if not the safest state in the union why, because law-abiding ” real
    Vermonters ” understand and respect firearms and follow the laws and the Constitution
    something the left ignores even after taking an oath…………… pathetic.

    Wake up people, follow the money, that’s how they make their decisions, ban firearms,
    de-fund the police, reduce criminal penalties, what could go wrong……….what a plan !!

    Stayed armed, you’re going to need it.

  10. Vermonters, who value the second amendment, should realize this is not about reducing crime, most of them do know that.

    If we as gun owners wanted to prove our cause, we could demonstrate it.

    Take the city of Chicago. Rampant with crime strictest gun laws.

    How about this? Vermonter set up an account. Whereby we train, pay for training and pay for licensing for citizens of Chicago to operate handguns, Then provide 50% funding for the purchase fire arms.

    We could provide 100% financing for any living on Martin Luther King Blvd….

    Crime would plummet in these areas.

    It’s easy to be a bully when others cant’ defend themselves. We have more deaths by firearms in certain cities then when we were at war. It’s just not right.

    An armed society is a very polite society.

  11. You can’t fix stupid – Liberal Buffoons…fixated on two silly words, “Assault Weapon”. If you ban those type of rifles, WHAT will a bad person do?. Switch one deadly weapon to a myriad of similar deadly ones,,,,think, pistols – A Glock? A Colt 45? A Glock 9 mm, Model G 45 has a 17 round magazine capacity!….what about a Winchester lever action.. What about things like an early M-1? A Springfield 30-06? What about a shotgun? Have you ever seen a Winchester Model 97? It is deadly, shotgun….pump action. It has a very short barrel and is deadly at close range. The nickname of it is a “Trench Gun” as it was used widely in WW1 in close action trench warfare..They are still used today in Police cars! So if you ban “assault rifles”…the next mayhem weapon choice is a Winchester Pump, Model 97, 12 gauge, with many boxes of shells….or a Glock 9mm with 17 rounds.

    Unless you ban ALL guns, pistols, rifles, shotguns….then just banning ONE “type” leaves it wide open to use ALL KINDS of OTHER guns. See? Liberals are dopes. We know it – They don’t 🙂

    • They just want to open the door, if they can get one, they know they’ll get them all shortly after.

      • They know full well that the entirety of the criminal element living in, or operating out of, Vermont will ignore anything they may pass.

        Thanks primarily to the progressives trying to push this issue, their voters have weakened law enforcement to the breaking point in Vermont.

        Apparently, arrogant English professors have never bothered to learn about second and third order effects.

        • they are going to take them by democratic rule, because we are a “democracy”, which allows them to operate in the open, before ignorant people who don’t know the difference between a democracy and a republic.

          They could care less about laws. It’s all about power and money.

          Just like they could care less about the environment. If a plane went down and 10 people were killed it would be front page news on cnn for 2 weeks. Ohio can’t seem to get mention.

          This is not a coincidence, it is state controlled propaganda. The Smear by Sheryl Atkisson is an eye opener. If you’re of the critical thinking mind set it’s also painfully clear.

          • You pointed out a huge mistake on the gun grabbers’ agenda. The US in NOT a democracy. It is a Constitutional Republic. This means the US Constitution is the ultimate law. It is the only law that matters. Any court that makes a ruling that violates the constitution, has lost its power. That is an entrenched law in the constitution.

    • They want to ban the “scary looking” ones first, then they will work their way down…we must want this because a majority of Vermonters voted for this bunch of marxists and gave them a veto-proof majority.

  12. Emotion trumps Fact- every time when dealing with a liberal.
    professor baruth only deals with emotion, unfortunately rather successfully this session.

    ‘Emotions neither prove or disprove facts. There was a time when any rational adult understood this, but years of dumbed-down education and emphasis on how people “feel” have left too many people unable to see thru this political gimmick’ Thos. Sowell

    ‘shall not be infringed’ US Constitution, 1787.

    • Baruth is a college professor but in a subject that does not deal in objective reality. He teaches English, a language that should already be mastered by anyone who is admitted to a school of higher learning in the US. Vermonters who work and pay taxes already pay part of his UVM salary and all of his legislative salary and then he uses that position to restrict our Constitutional Rights. A majority in his district voted for him…very disturbing.

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