Assault-weapons ban no guarantee mass shootings would decrease, data shows

by FoxNews.com  |  published on December 25, 2012

Diane Feinstein, Richard Blumenthal
Congress is poised to launch into a contentious debate next year over reinstating the assault-weapons ban.

In the wake of the Connecticut elementary school massacre, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., already has vowed to introduce such a bill at the start of the session. President Obama is voicing support.

But crime trends over the past few decades offer a mixed verdict on whether renewing the ban would reduce the kinds of mass shootings that have spurred calls for its re-enactment in the first place.

Data published earlier this year showed that while the ban was in place, from 1994 to 2004, the number of mass shootings actually rose slightly during that period.

Add to that the fact that most gun crimes in America are committed with handguns, and the gun lobby enters this debate with some potent statistics.

“You had that for 10 years when Dianne Feinstein passed that ban in ’94. It was on the books. Columbine occurred right in the middle of it. It didn’t make any difference,” NRA chief Wayne LaPierre argued in an interview Sunday. “I think that is a phony piece of legislation, and I do not believe it will pass for this reason.”

At the same time, gun control advocates note that modest decreases in assault-weapon crimes were recorded during the ban. A revived version won’t stop gun crime in America, but, advocates argue, it could spare some lives from the violence on America’s streets, in its schools and in its homes.

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