So, did the previous “assault weapons” ban work?
It turns out that various independent studies came to the same conclusion: the ban had no measurable impact on the number of shootings or the number of shooting deaths while it was in effect.
A 2005 report from the National Research Council, for example, noted that “A recent evaluation of the short-term effects of the 1994 federal assault weapons ban did not reveal any clear impacts on gun violence outcomes.”
A 2004 study sponsored by the National Institute of Justice found that while the ban appeared to have reduced the number of crimes committed with “assault weapons,” any benefits were “likely to have been outweighed by steady or rising use of non-banned semiautomatics.”
As a result, the Justice study found “there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence, based on indicators like the percentage of gun crimes resulting in death or the share of gunfire incidents resulting in injury.”
The main reason the failure of the ban to make a difference: “assault weapons” account for a tiny share of gun crimes — less than 6%. Even among mass shootings, most didn’t involve an “assault weapon” in the decade before the ban went into effect.