Assault Weapons Ban Expires

Essay by mauhan December 2004

download word file, 3 pages 3.7

On September 13, the ten year old assault weapons ban established by President Clinton expired. As a result from the carnage of three California mass shootings, the federal assault weapons ban was created ten years ago. President Clinton signed the bill into law in 1994, and banned the sale of 19 specific semiautomatic weapons and ammunition clips of ten rounds or more. At that time, former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan all encouraged the members of the House to pass the bill. The weakness in the bill may have been the clause which mentions specifically that the ban will expire in ten years unless Congress reauthorizes it, which it did not.

The original catalyst for the writing of the bill was the shootings in California. The 1984 shooting rampage at a Sand Diego County McDonald's that killed 21 people, and then the massacre of five people five years later at a Stockton elementary school yard and the most prominent shooting at a law firm in San Francisco in 1993, in which eight died and six were wounded, all added fuel to the fire.

This pushed Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein to write and urge the passing of the bill. Nonetheless, following its passing and successful ten year lifetime, Congress has chosen not to reinstate the ban.

Currently, firearms such as AK-47s, Uzis, and TEC-9s can all be legally bought. Manufacturers and gun enthusiasts all are pleased with the news and can not wait for the new items to hit the market, however, police chiefs have given warnings of an upsurge in crime. Studies have shown conflicting results on whether the ban helped reduce crime. Loopholes allowed manufacturers to keep many of the same automatic weapons on the market by simply altering the names and minor features, but laws...