Many lawmakers are pushing for tighter gun control laws in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn. last month.
As lawmakers in Washington, D.C., consider President Obama's proposal to institute a new assault weapons ban, we thought it would be helpful to take a look at the last one.
What was the 1994 assault weapons ban?
The law banned the manufacture, transfer, and possession of certain semiautomatic assault weapons (otherwise known as simply “assault weapons” or “AWs”). The law applied to several named weapons, as well as any semiautomatic pistol or weapon that has “an ability to accept a detachable magazine” and at least two of five specific features listed in the law.
It also banned the transfer or possession of “large capacity ammunition feeding devices” (otherwise known as “large-capacity magazines” or “LCMs”). These were defined as “a magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar Device”…”that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition; but does not include an attached tubular device designed to accept, and capable of operating only with, .22 caliber rimfire ammunition.’’
Officially known as Title XI of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, the ban went into effect on Sept. 13, 1994. It was repealed 10 years later.
Did the ban have any major limitations?
According to the 2004 National Institute of Justice Assessment of the ban, it had one big one: Assault weapons and large-capacity magazines manufactured before the effective date of the ban were “grandfathered” and thus legal to possess and transfer. That’s a whole lot of firepower:
Has anyone measured the ban’s effectiveness?
The Law Enforcement Act of 1994 required a study by the U.S. attorney general to determine the effects of the ban, to be conducted within 30 months after it was enacted. The National Institute of Justice awarded a grant to The Urban Institute for an evaluation, which was titled “Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994.” That evaluation was updated in 2004 by one of the original authors (findings below). Since the ban was allowed to lapse in 2004, there hasn’t been another comprehensive national study.
What was the criminal use of assault weapons before the ban?
According to the 2004 assessment mentioned above:
What were the effects of the ban?
According to the official NIJ assessment:
What is the trend in crimes involving assault weapons since the ban’s expiration?
As explained above, there has been no comprehensive nationwide study done since 2004. However, the Police Executive Research Forum reported several findings in "Guns and Crime: Breaking New Ground by Focusing on the Local Impact" in 2010. Since the ban’s expiration in 2004: