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Let's take a look:
First, what is the assault weapons ban? It was passed by Congress on September 13, 1994 and signed later that day by President Bill Clinton. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban prohibited the manufacturing of 18 specific models of semiautomatic weapons, along with the manufacturing of of high-capacity ammunition magazines that could carry more than 10 rounds. The ban had a provision in it that allowed it to expire in September 2004.
There have been attempts made to reinstate it, but all have failed. So what happened in that decade of 1994 to 2004? The University of Pennsylvania conducted a study. They found that the number of people killed in mass shootings did go down generally during the ban. The exception was 1999, the year of Columbine.
But the number of mass shootings has doubled since the ban expired. For now, researchers have been unable to come up with a cause and effect relationship. Gun crimes involving assault weapons declined by as much as 72%. Trouble is, researchers also found that these types of weapons were only used in 2 to 8 percent of the gun crimes committed prior to the ban.
Gun control proponents fault the language of the law for not having a bigger impact. They say it was too narrow and the penalties were too lenient. Those who have studied it also say it was rife with loopholes.
There will be legislation introduced in Congress next month reinstating the ban. Trouble is, there's no technical definition on just what an assault weapon is. Fully automatic weapons have been regulated since 1934. Those are the ones that keep firing as long as you hold down the trigger. Semiautomatic weapons automatically reload and you can keep pulling the trigger and firing. To ban all semiautomatic weapons would probably ban most guns so Congress has shied away from that.
But here's where most opponents of so-called assault weapons have a problem. They are usually guns made for mlitary purposes, they carry high storage magazines and they allow the shooter to keep firing many many rounds. That's what most ban proponents believe is the problem. If the criminal is limited in the number of rounds they can fire before they have to reload then perhaps not as many people will be victims.
When the proposal to reinstate the law is introduced next month, it is likely they'll attempt to close the loopholes. One of them allowed the modification of weapons so they wouldn't fall under the ban. Proponents say the ban will likely have an impact, but the loopholes need to be closed and it needs to be in place for longer than a decade.