The recent expiration on the "1994 Federal Assault Weapon Ban" has caused a political frenzy. It has been said that lifting the ban would "make the job of terrorists easier and make the job of American's police officers harder." With 23,000 gun control laws already on the books, what affect did the ban on assault weapons really have?
The ban was passed in 1994 after a series of shooting in US schools and fast food restaurants. The ban restricted the manufacture and sale of 19 different types of military assault weapon, which were selected by how they looked and not by how they operated. Also banned were high-capacity ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds. Many of the weapons targeted had been banned from importation in 1989.
A recent survey, conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, found that firearm-related crimes have declined 54 percent since 1993. Yet a study commissioned by the National Institute of Justice stated, "We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation's recent drop in gun violence." The most obvious factor attributable to the infrequent use of assault weapons in crimes is that most assault weapons are rifles and are harder to conceal, consequently, they are used less often than hand guns. Between 1985 and 2000, there was a decline in the number of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, however, the decline was in the use of handguns. The use of other types of guns stayed about the same.
Under the 1994 law, assault weapons already in circulation could continue to be sold. Buying and selling such weapons built was legal, but as the supply decreased under the ban, the cost of these weapons skyrockted. As I see it, the primary affect of the ban was on the value of the estimated 1.5 million privately owned assault weapons.