The Effectiveness of Assault Weapons Ban

A ban on assault rifles like the one Congress enacted in 1994 could be effective at minimizing mass shootings conducted with those weapons, but the same ban can fail due to various reasons. Routinely, lawmakers introduce bans on assault rifles as a response to the shootings considering that most of those incidences have occurred using those weapons, to some extent, this makes sense. Some experts think otherwise and conclude that these carnages do not depend on types of guns, whether handgun or an assault-style rifle, instead, they consider it an issue of the ammunition accommodated by those guns. For instance, some of these weapons can hold more than thirty rounds and still reload within seconds. An example is the one that happened in 2001 killing six people and leaving thirteen wounded including U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords (Kleck and Gary, 1447).

            The criminal in this incidence was not using assault rifle but a standard Glock 9mm handgun with a clip that could hold thirty rounds, double the gun capacity. A bystander tackled him immediately he stopped to reload, if he had a clip that held fifteen rounds or less, police could have halted the massacre sooner. Due to that example, legislatures reducing the number that a gun can carry to ten and below could limit the shooter to injure more people. In analyzing the shooting issue, the paper shall base its argument on the school shootings, rampage killings, workplace, family massacre and mass killing over race, religion or politics from 1973 to date. In this study, it indicates 108 mass shooting, where 92 occurred before and after the ban, while sixteen happening within the course of the ban. Sixteen is a huge number in a situation where assault rifles are not allowed, which is an average of 1.6 shootings per ban per year (Saad and Lydia, 12). The ninety-two shootings occurred within thirty-four years showing that it happened at a rate of 2.7 shootings per year. 2.7 is more rampant as compared to 1.6. However, considering the number of bans imposed in the U.S, one can conclude that they are never effective even though they reduce the rate of shootings.


            In 2016, Omar entered a gay club in Orlando with an assault semiautomatic rifle and killed 49 people. The incidence made the nation to debate whether the federal government should impose a ban on the Americans. Seven states and several municipalities already have put the debate into action and imposed the ban. But do these bans work? Well, the experience together with the compiled data during the ban that ended in 2004 gives a snapshot of its effectiveness, and the answer is no. The challenges of controlling guns across the state boundaries, the ability of the weapon manufacturers to adapt its products and the complexities of enforcing the ban laws have brought little substantive change (Schildkraut et al. 358). Furthermore, expert analysis and data indicate that these weapons have no discernible effect on crime. To the enthusiasts and the gun industry, statistics underscore the assault guns which accounts for a small number of deaths, meaning that assault weapons may not be the problem.

            According to advocates for gun control, those numbers indicate the necessity for stricter laws, which means that, without having comprehensive legislation, it would be difficult to have significant positive effects. For instance, most states allow grandfathering and thus people who owned the assault weapons continue to hold even after the ban. The New York has a different rule where the assault owner cannot sell to someone else in the same state or be inherited by family members after death. If this ban continues that way, then the number of assault weapons would reduce with time. However, New York faces other challenges such as resistance to register the gun; the number of people who recorded is estimated to be about five percent, meaning that it has not been successful. Ineffective registration brings difficulty in tracking those guns and thus encouraging trafficking. It becomes challenging for states to control guns in a significant manner since there is effortless transportability across the countries. Chicago can act as the example in this case where it had a ban on this weapons since 1993; only military personnel and police officers could have assault weapons and no grandfathering, but police complain of illegal trafficking from states with fewer bans such as Indiana.

            Gun manufacturers also respond by changing the weapon designs to revolve around the law. The assault weapon definition depends on the ban, but most require them to have one or two military features such as detachable magazines that can allow for quick reloading, telescoping or thumbhole stocks. After the ban, manufacturers usually respond by changing the model but avoid the features that caused prohibition (Gius and Mark, 265). Such a response means substitution of an old and unnecessary gun with a new, which may have a minimum or no positive effects. For instance, in California, manufacturers developed bullet buttons to cater for the restriction of the state on detachable magazines. If guns have bullet buttons, one can only remove the magazine with a tool such as a bullet, and thus legalized under the laws in California.

            California is trying to close the bullet button gap but passing further legislation, although the walkaround shows how difficult it is to ban assault weapons effectively. Experts indicate that even the central government had the same challenge of the 1994 and 2004 ban. The 1994 ban allowed manufacturers to continue producing assault weapons even during the period of the ban. According to the violence policy center (VPC) study of 2004, assault weapon manufacturers were more as compared to the time before the ban. Also, they manufactured more than one million assault weapons to sell in the U.S. market during that time. In the local governments, there is no precise data indicating reduction or increase in the gun violence, on the federal ban, the extensive assessment shows similar results (Jacobs and James, 681).


            The ban shows a reduction of these cases to some extent, but not as it is supposed to work. The federal government should impose a ban on assault rifles, but should also understand that it is not the efficient way of curbing the challenge of mass shootings. Stricter laws should be enacted to control the menace; governments should not condone the death of its people without genuine reason. Legislatures should ensure that America remains safe from its citizen. The military personnel and the police officers should handle assault weapons instead of living them in the hands of criminals and people with mental issues. With that considered, the country can reduce the number of lives lost through mass shootings, but without it, even if the federal government impose a ban, it cannot be effective.

Work cited

Gius, Mark. "An examination of the effects of concealed weapons laws and assault weapons bans on state-level murder rates." Applied economics letters 21.4 (2014): 265-267.

Jacobs, James B. "Why Ban Assault Weapons." Cardozo L. Rev. 37 (2015): 681.

Kleck, Gary. "Mass shootings in schools: The worst possible case for gun control." American     Behavioral Scientist 52.10 (2009): 1447-1464.

Saad, Lydia. "Americans Want Stricter Gun Laws, Still Oppose Bans." Gallup, December 27   (2012): 12-17

Schildkraut, Jaclyn, and Tiffany Cox Hernandez. "Laws that bit the bullet: A review of legislative       responses to school shootings." American Journal of Criminal Justice 39.2 (2014): 358-        374.

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