Former U.S. president Bill Clinton has claimed that a law he made in 1994 caused a great reduction in the national murder rate.
Twenty-four years ago, I signed the Federal Assault Weapons Ban into law. It, along with other policies, led to a 33-year low in the murder rate. We’ve done it before-we should do it again.
During his first term, Clinton signed the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act (link contains a definition of “assault weapon” under the ban) into law in 1994. This law expired in September 2004. This bill was also known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB).
His tweet claimed that the ban “led” to a drop in murder rate, the lowest in 33 years.
The context suggests that Clinton was using the word “led” to mean (dictionary.com): “to influence or induce; cause”.
Studies do not bear this out. While the murder rate did drop during the ban in the United States, it had been dropping before (New York Times) and also continued to drop after it was lifted.
[W]e cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence, based on indicators like the percentage of gun crimes resulting in death or the share of gunfire incidents resulting in injury, as we might have expected had the ban reduced crimes with both AWs and LCMs.
The ban did not appear to affect gun crime during the time it was in effect, but some evidence suggests it may have modestly reduced gunshot victimizations had it remained in place for a longer period.
Had Clinton said that his ban might have worked had it been given more time, we might have rated it “unconfirmed” or even “probably true”.
But his claim is for the period for which it was in effect. We rate it likely false.