Democrat presidential hopeful Eric Swalwell claims his confiscatory “assault weapons” ban would have prevented the December 14, 2012, attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School.

He made this claim in response to a tweet by John Lott, wherein Lott asked why Swalwell was pushing gun controls that “wouldn’t have stopped one mass public shooting this century”:

Swalwell responded, “Who wants to tell John Lott that if my assault weapons ban and buy-back had been in place before Sandy Hook or Parkland, those children wouldn’t have been killed?”

Swalwell’s claim overlooks a number of important facts.

First, it overlooks the fact that the Sandy Hook gunman was armed with a handgun in addition to his rifle. He could could have used the handgun in much the same way that the Virginia Beach shooter (May 31, 2019) or the Virginia Tech shooter (April 16, 2007) did. Those two attackers killed a total of 44 people using handguns alone.

And this leads to the second overlooked fact, which is that handguns are the weapon of choice for mass public shooters. On May 30, 2018, Breitbart News reported a Rockefeller Institute of Government study which examined 50 years of mass shootings and found attackers preferred handguns over rifles by a roughly 3 to 1 margin.

The third fact Swalwell’s response overlooks is the Crime Prevention Research Center study which shows 97.8 percent of mass public shootings from 1950 to May 2018 occurred in gun free zones. This means an attacker in a setting like Sandy Hook or Parkland has time to kill a large number of innocents without fear of armed resistance. For example, the Sandy Hook attacker had over nine minutes without armed resistance and the Parkland attacker had time to pause and reload five times.

With the benefit of time an attacker can kill numerous innocents, regardless of the kind of gun used.