Election 2016:How Effective Was the Assault Weapons Ban

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Saul Loeb/AP Images

The FBI designated the recent shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., a terrorist attack, but President Barack Obama used his Oval Office address on the events to include a reference about the need for more gun control.

Just four days after the attacks that left 14 dead, Obama said: “We also need to make it harder for people to buy powerful assault weapons like the ones that were used in San Bernardino.”

Although Obama didn’t specifically call to renew the old assault weapons ban — in effect in the U.S. from 1994 to 2004 — Obama’s namechecking of gun control reignited conversations about the effectiveness of the previous law. Using data from a Mother Jones investigation on mass shootings in the United States, InsideGov explored the ban’s impact on gun violence in America.

The data shows that of the 73 mass shootings that have occurred since 1982, 16 involved assault weapons. As the visualization below illustrates, while the ban was in effect, assailants used assault weapons in four shootings. Since the ban expired, nine such shootings involved assault weapons, including the one in San Bernardino.

Studies examining the impact of the ban found the law didn’t prevent violence or decrease crime rates. A task force within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researched the effectiveness of strategies for preventing violence, looking at gun laws as a possible means to avert violence. The study, released in October 2003, “found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes.”

The 1994 provision, signed into law by then President Bill Clinton, called out 18 specific firearms, large-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition and certain military features that could be added onto guns. It banned the future manufacture of the specific guns and the magazines, but didn’t pertain to anything manufactured before the law went into effect in 1994.

That meant the ban couldn’t touch the 1.5 million assault weapons and 24 million large-capacity magazines already in circulation before the law was signed. A June 2004 University of Pennsylvania report about the effectiveness of the ban found that the prevalence of these grandfathered-in items meant it was “premature” to assess the law’s impact on gun crime.

Without question, violence continued throughout the years the assault weapons ban was in effect. But a different metric provides a new perspective of the ban’s impact.

The visualization shows how many people have died in mass shootings since 1982, breaking out totals by year. The average number of fatalities dipped during the 10 years the ban was in effect. From 1982 to 1993, about nine people, on average, died during each shooting. From 1994 to 2004, that average went down to approximately seven fatalities. When the ban expired in 2004, the average bounced back to about nine deaths per attack.

With the exception of 1999, in general, the years during the assault weapons ban saw fewer fatalities as a result of mass shootings. In 1999, five mass shootings claimed a total of 44 lives: 15 people died at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.; nine people died at two day-trading firms in Atlanta; eight people died at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas; seven people died at a Xerox building in Honolulu; and five people died at the Radisson Bay Harbor Inn in Tampa, Fla.

A revamp of the nation’s firearms laws seems unlikely, especially since we are embarking on a presidential election year and politicians often prefer to sidestep volatile topics like gun legislation on the campaign trail. While an assault weapons ban wouldn’t necessarily eliminate mass shootings or gun violence, the data does suggest it might lower the number of fatalities during such attacks.

More: The States With the Most Gun Violence

Follow InsideGov on Twitter: @inside_gov

Research More About Presidents and Policies

Haute Tease

  • MIB 3: A Laugh Out Loud Trip Back In Time from Director Barry Sonnenfeld

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Men in Black 3, a high speed, hi-jinks, trip back in time alien adventure, from Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Films and Amblin Entertainment recently held its Los Angeles media screening in Century City, California.

     
  • Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus reveals Hand Built SCG003S To Be Launched at 2017 Geneva Motor Show

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    American sports car company Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus has revealed never before seen images of its first production model, the SCG003S, which will be launched at next year's Geneva Motor Show.

     
  • GKIDS and Beijing International Film Festival Presents "ANIMATION IS FILM BEIJING"

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    GKIDS and Beijing Film Panorama have partnered to present ANIMATION IS FILM BEIJING, a special animation section within the upcoming Beijing Int’l Film Festival (BJIFF), featuring the largest slate of international animated feature film shown in China.

     
  • London Arts: Tate Modern Takes Top Spot Among UK Visitor Attractions

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Tourism is alive and well in London, drawing nearly 70 million visitors annually, and the Tate Modern has become the most visited attraction in the UK, with 5,868,562 visits last year, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.

     
  • Ben & Jerry’s Co-Founder Announces Plan to Rubber Stamp “Not To Be Used to Bribe Politicians” on over 2MM Dollar Bills

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    "The Supreme Court said, when it comes to elections, money is free speech, so we're going to make our money scream," says Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream and Head Stamper of StampStampede.org.

     
  • Gold Review – Brilliant, A Thrill Ride from The Beginning

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    GOLD, from The Weinstein Company and TWC-Dimension, presents the amazing inspired by true events story of a larger than life, down on his luck, dreamer, who through a vision sees his future and follows it from Reno to the jungles of Indonesia.

     
  • Two Reuter’s Journalists Sentenced in Myanmar

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The recent sentencing of two Myanmar reporters working for Reuter's, the global news organization, has brought quick condemnation from global leaders who watched the trial closely and believe the judges ignored evidence that vindicated the two men.

     
  • Justice Antonin Scalia: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia, a historically conservative firebrand on the Supreme Court, sent shockwaves through the political world. In the middle of a hectic and noisy presidential primary, the Republican candidates shared a moment of silence during their ninth debate — and then dove into a conversation about whether President Barack Obama should nominate a successor.  

  • Celebrity Real Estate News: Robert De Niro’s Sprawling West Village Duplex Penthouse Reduced

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Brentmore, New York’s West Village gem, has been home to celebrities for over a half century with the first being Oscar winning actress Celeste Holm. It remains the choice for legends of film, stage, screen and music including Billy Joel, Sting, Annie Leibovitz and Robert De Niro.

     
  • Slenderman Tween Found Incompetent to Stand Trial; Legal Commentary By Whitey Bulger Defense Attorney Hank Brennan

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Morgan Geyser, 12, known as one half of the Slenderman Killers, who stabbed a twelve year old friend 19 times, has been found incompetent to stand trial for her participation in the crimes that shocked this tiny Wisconsin city.

     
  • Café Society Review – Woody Allen Hits a Four Star Homerun

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    Café Society, from Lionsgate and Amazon Studios, presents the newest film from quintessential New York director Woody Allen, who charms with a less neurotic and inviting bi-coastal look on The Golden Age, family, romance, love, choice and circumstance.

     
  • Applaud The Art Of Watch Making At The 15th Celebration of The 12th Art

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The world most exquisite watches pre-selected by the 2015 jury will be competing to win the prestigious "Aiguille d'Or" Grand Prix. These 72 timepieces are now available on the official website of the Grand  Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève, gphg.org.

     
  • Money News: Bear Mauls Ten Most Watched Global Markets

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Dow Jones Industrial. Along with the NASDAQ and S &P 500, made a strong effort over the past week, successfully holding the bear at bay, until the off the encroaching bear market while the S&P500 fell as the bear split the ten most watched global markets with no obvious pattern as usually aligned U.S. markets fell.

     
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice Ignites at World Premiere

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the newest film from the collaborating team of Nic Cage, Jerry Bruckheimer and Jon Turtletaub, held its World Premiere at the historic New Amsterdam Theater located at the cross roads of the World, Times Square New York, New York.

     
  • Bentley Motors Introduces the Continental GT V8 S Coupe And Convertible

    AddThis Social Bookmark Button

    (Crewe) The appeal of the world’s most stylish, luxury grand tourer is enhanced with the introduction of the new, sporting Continental GT V8 S. Available as both a coupe and convertible, the new GT V8 S models bring added excitement to the Continental range with lowered and retuned sports suspension, sharper steering, dramatic ‘S’ signature styling cues and a distinctive soundtrack from the uprated V8 engine.