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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Did the 1994 assault weapons ban lead to a reduction in mass shootings? Here’s what the data tells us

High-profile mass shootings in the US have prompted Congress to consider banning so-called assault weapons – covering the types of guns used in both the recent Buffalo grocery attack and an elementary school in Uvalde. , Texas.

Such restrictions have already been imposed. As President Joe Biden noted in his June 2, 2022, speech addressing gun violence, nearly three decades ago bipartisan support in Congress led to a federal law in 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. helped to ban assault weapons.

That ban was limited – it covered only certain categories of semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15 and was only signed into law after a ban on sales was enforced, allowing people to use them before that date. Purchased weapons were allowed to be kept. And it also had a so-called “sunset provision” that allowed the ban to expire in 2004.

Still, the 10-year lifespan of that ban — with a clear start and end date — gives researchers an opportunity to compare what happened with mass shooting deaths before, during, and after Prohibition. So did our group of injury epidemiologists and trauma surgeons. In 2019, we published a population-based study that analyzed data to evaluate the impact of a federal ban on mass shootings, which has been approved by the FBI for four or more years. More lethal was defined as a shooting that did not involve the shooter. Here’s what the data shows:

Before the 1994 ban:

From 1981 – the first year in our analysis – to the 1994 rollout of the assault weapons ban, the proportion of deaths in mass shootings in which an assault rifle was used was lower than today.

Yet in this earlier period, there was a steady increase in mass shooting deaths. Indeed, high-profile mass shootings involving assault rifles—such as the 1989 killing of five children in Stockton, California, and the 1993 San Francisco office attack that killed eight—behind a push for a ban on certain types provided encouragement. Of the gun

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During the 1994-2004 ban:

In the years following the imposition of a ban on assault weapons, the number of deaths from mass shootings declined and the increase in the annual number of incidents slowed. Even the Columbine High School massacre of 1999 – the deadliest mass shooting during the period of the ban – was more likely to result in both mass shootings and deaths as a result of such incidents in the period from 1994 to 2004 than before the ban was instituted. The average annual rate was observed to be low.

From 2004 onwards:

The data shows an almost immediate – and sharp – increase in mass shooting deaths in the years since the assault weapons ban ended in 2004.

Breaking the data into absolute numbers – between 2004 and 2017 – the last year of our analysis – the average number of annual deaths due to mass shootings was 25, compared to 5.3 during the 10-year tenure of the ban and 7.2 in the years leading up to Was. Until the ban on weapons of attack.

saving hundreds of lives

We calculated that the risk of one person dying in a mass shooting in the US was 70% lower during the period when the assault weapons ban was active. The proportion of total gun homicides resulting from mass shootings was also lower, with nine fewer mass-shooting-related deaths per 10,000 shooting deaths.

Taking population trends into account, the model we built based on this data shows that the federal assault weapons ban was in place throughout the duration of our study – that is, from 1981 to 2017 – out of 448 Could have stopped 314. Shooting deaths occurred during years in which there were no restrictions.

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And this almost certainly underestimates the total number of lives that can be saved. For our study, we chose to include only mass shooting incidents that were reported and agreed upon by all three of our selected data sources: the Los Angeles Times, Stanford University and Mother Jones Magazine.

Furthermore, for the sake of uniformity, we also chose to use a strict federal definition of an assault weapon – which may not cover the entire spectrum that many might now consider to be an assault weapon.

Cause or Correlation?

It is also important to note that our analysis cannot definitively say that the 1994 assault weapons ban led to a reduction in mass shootings, nor that its termination in 2004 resulted in an increase in fatalities over the years .

Several additional factors may contribute to changes in the frequency of these shootings, such as changes in domestic violence rates, political extremism, mental illness, increased firearm availability and sales, and more recently an increase in hate groups.

Yet, according to our study, President Biden claims that the rate of mass shootings during the period of the assault weapons ban was only “down” to rise again after it was allowed to end in 2004.

As the US looks at a solution to the nation’s epidemic of mass shootings, it is difficult to say conclusively whether reinstating a ban on assault weapons will have a profound effect, especially given the increase in sales over the 18 years in which Americans have been killed. Permission has been given for the purchase and stockpiling of such weapons. But given that many high-profile mass shooters in recent years purchased their weapons less than a year before committing their acts, evidence suggests it may.

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