Mass Shootings Actually Increased
During Federal 'Assault Weapons' Ban

Andrew/Flickr/Cropped/CC By-SA 2.0

A widely cited study used to push for more state 'assault weapons' bans is flawed and does not show that the 1994 federal ban saved lives.

By E. Gregory Wallace & George A. Mocsary. Jan 31, 2023

“Assault weapons” ban proponents say that such bans will save lives. A recent opinion column published in the Chicago Sun-Times claims that the risk of dying in a mass shooting was 70 percent lower during the 1994-2004 federal 'assault weapons' ban. The column was published while the Illinois state legislature was debating a state-wide 'assault weapons' ban, which passed a few weeks ago.

The study on which that claim was based is flawed and its conclusions unreliable. Yet gun-control advocates such as the Giffords Law Center, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Sandy Hook Promise continue to use the study as they push for more 'assault weapons' bans like the one in Illinois. Legislators, media reports, and opinion writers have cited the study, and the column published in the Chicago Sun-Times has appeared in several media outlets.

The study was produced by Charles DiMaggio, lead author; Michael Klein, the opinion column's author; and seven other medical professionals. It examined data from three open-source mass shooting databases. The study identified 44 mass shootings from 1981 through 2017 in which four or more fatalities were reported (not including the shooter), resulting in 501 fatalities. It determined that 34 of these shootings were committed with so-called 'assault weapons', which accounted for 430 (86 percent) of the fatalities.

Defining 'Assault Weapons'

Measuring the effect of the federal assault weapons ban requires distinguishing mass shootings with 'assault weapons' from mass shootings with non-banned weapons, such as handguns. After all, the point of an 'assault weapons' ban is to reduce mass shootings with the banned firearms. .....


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