Reinstate the Assault Rifle Restrictions

There have been 625 mass shootings in the United States in 2022 at the time of this writing; 625 mass shootings in 343 days. A mass shooting—as defined by the Gun Violence Archive, an organization dedicated to tracking the number of shootings per year in the United States—is a shooting that causes four or more people to be shot or killed, not including the shooter. This definition is solely numerical and does not change based on the circumstances of the shooting.

One of the primary debates around the topic of gun control is whether to ban assault rifles. Factually, the majority of mass shootings occur with handguns, and the majority of these shootings occur in private homes. However, the shootings that are arguably the most catastrophic are mass shootings in public places, defined by the Gun Violence Archive as a shooting where one or more individuals are actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a public place. Estimates show that approximately one-third of public mass shootings include the use of an assault weapon, and nearly 40% involve a high-capacity magazine. What is even more striking is that when an assault rifle or a high-capacity magazine, or both, are used in a public mass shooting, nearly 14 times as many people are injured, and twice as many people are killed. Americans shouldn’t have to be on guard every time they go to the store to buy a gallon of milk.

An assault weapons ban is not a new concept for the United States; from 1994 to 2004 there was a ban on the sale of assault weapons in the U.S. The ban made the sale of certain categories of semi-automatic weapons such as AR-15s illegal, but it did not restrict the usage of assault weapons. Data shows that the number of casualties from mass shootings and the number of mass shootings in the U.S. declined after the bill was passed, according to a study published in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. But when the bill expired in 2004, the number of mass shootings and victims skyrocketed to record levels. According to the journal The Conversation, “the risk of a person in the U.S. dying in a mass shooting was 70% lower during the period in which the assault weapons ban was active.” Based on the data shown in these studies, the assault weapons ban reduced the number of mass shootings during the time of the ban.

With mass shootings becoming more horrific in scale and frequency, it is important to ask why we continue to abide by a section of the Constitution that was written at a time when guns could only fire three rounds per minute, had a magazine capacity of one round, and had a maximum accuracy range of 50 meters? Compare that to the modern-day AR-15 which can fire 45 rounds per minute, has a magazine capacity of 30 rounds, and a maximum accuracy range of 550 meters. The types of guns frequently used in mass shootings today did not exist when James Madison proposed the Second Amendment. The United States needs to reinstate an assault weapons ban, create a buyback program, improve background checks, and legalize many more restrictions on other types of guns. These restrictions are successful in other countries, such as Canada, where after there was the deadliest mass shooting in the country’s history, the government successfully banned 1,500 models of assault and assault-style weapons. Additionally, the Canadian government has started receiving input from Canadians regarding pricing on a buyback program for guns. These laws have been successful, with Canada on October 21st enforcing a zero-tolerance policy for new guns entering the country or being bought.

The United States is peerless in its scope of gun violence. Only in the United States do school shootings and mass shootings happen frequently, and only in the United States do lawmakers continue to be inactive in passing legislation relating to gun violence. The reality is, as long as congresspeople continue to receive money and endorsements from the NRA and Gun Lobby—almost 16 million dollars in 2021—to vote against gun control, more mass shootings will happen. It is easy to feel hopeless and sad about the current state of gun violence in the United States. What is important, however, is to continue to fight, vote, and make your voice heard. The United States has enacted a ban before, and a new one needs to be passed now. We must pass a ban on assault weapons, or else the floors of grocery stores, places of worship, concerts, offices, and schools will continue to be littered with blood and bullets. 



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