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Why Congress Isn't Considering A New Ban on Assault Weapons

President Biden and parents of shooting victims pleaded pleading for a federal assault-weapons ban after AR-15-style rifles again were a weapon of choice in mass shootings. The Democratic-led Congress isn’t seriously considering any such proposal, and gun-control advocates have stopped pursuing it as a top priority. Reasons behind shelving the ban are political and practical: Passing such legislation in a closely divided Senate, when Republicans have for years opposed nearly all gun legislation, isn’t feasible. A Justice Department study of the decade-long ban that ended in 2004 showed its effectiveness was limited. And there are 20 million AR-style rifles in the U.S. and little public appetite for seizing them, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Half of registered voters favor a nationwide ban on the sale of assault weapons while 45 percent oppose it, found a Quinnipiac University poll released last week, the lowest level of support since Quinnipiac first asked the question in 2013. The Democratic-controlled House didn’t include an assault-weapons ban in a gun-control package passed last week, hours after the mother of 10-year-old Lexi Rubio, a victim in the Uvalde, Tx., mass killing, tearfully asked for it in a hearing. A 1994 law banned the manufacture of 19 weapons by name, but gun makers quickly figured out how to produce similar weapons without the prohibited features and sold their guns under new names. “It is reasonable to argue that the federal ban could have prevented some of the recent increase in persons killed and injured in mass shootings had it remained in place,” said an author of a study on the 10-year ban's effectiveness, criminologist Christopher Koper of George Mason University. He said that conclusion is mainly due to the ban’s restrictions on magazine capacity.


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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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