By: Samantha Lee Thoms

Ever since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 ended in the September of 2004, more than 250 victims have fallen due to the minimal regulations of assault weapons within America. In total there has been about 14 mass shootings nationwide between the years of 2004 and 2018, with cases of multiple weapons used in at least three accounts. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban was put into motion due to cases of multiple mass shootings that would have increased in prevalence and consequence prior to September of 1994. One such mass shooting, known as Luby’s Shooting, occurred in October of 1991 and left 24 people dead, with 27 wounded. It was one of three major factors in the U.S. Congress’s decision to implement the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. The other two were the 1989 Cleveland School Massacre and the 1993 101 California Street Shooting.

In the month of November, 1993 the bill for the ban was proposed, with three former Presidents of the United States (Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan) in support of the ban of semi-automatic assault weapons. The ban lasted for 10 years, it expired on September 13, 2004. Ever since, there had been numerous attempts to renew the ban from U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Michael Castle (R-Del.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representative Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) between May 2003 and June 2008. Attempting to introduce a new and revised ban through a bill at the same time. Neither attempts made much leeway past committee review.

After the 2008 election, the Obama Administration wanted to make it one of their long-term goals to make the expired Assault Weapons Ban permanent. New sworn Attorney General Eric Holder would reiterate such a goal nearly three months later. In 2012 there were efforts to propose a new federal assault weapons ban in the month of December, following the Sandy Hooks Elementary School shooting. The shooting had resulted in the deaths of a total of 28 people, including the perpetrator and his mother at home, with 2 people surviving with injuries. Senator Feinstein introduced AWB 2013 (Assault Weapons Ban of 2013) on January 24, 2013, with no intended expiration following ten years of authorization. However, various pro-gun groups condemned AWB 2013, including the GOP Congressional Delegation from Texas and the NRA, with the bill failing to get pass the Senate on a vote of 40 to 60.

Currently, only about eight states within the United States of America have any sort of assault weapons ban put into place. These states include California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. The first state to ever put into effect such bans was California, in the month of May following the Cleveland School Massacre of January 1989, with a provision bill introduced in March 1999 by Senator Don Perata. New Jersey introduced its state ban in May 1990 with one of the strictest measures to have been put into place yet. In the year 1993, Connecticut became the third state to pass such a bill, with new restrictions put into place following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting of 2012. In April 2013, the legislation was passed.

As of the present day, the highest death count from mass shootings in the United States of America is 59 including the perpetrator, with 851 people suffering from non-fatal injuries following the Las Vegas Shooting of October 1, 2017. Both the NRA and U.S. Senate have made efforts to prohibit bump fire stocks, with Senator Feinstein introducing a bill with 39 Democratic co-sponsors to the House of Representatives, and the NRA coming out in favor of administrative bump fire stock regulations. On October 10, 18 Democratic U.S. Senators introduced the Keep America Safe Act, and on November 6, Massachusetts became the first state to ban the sale, possession, or use of said devices. The bill would ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition if signed into a law. On February 20, 2018, six days after the recent Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, dozens of students from the school sat down and watched as a bill that would have banned assault weapons in Florida was rejected.

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