Press Releases

Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement on the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the federal assault weapons ban:

“Saturday is the 20th anniversary of the enactment of the federal assault weapons ban, which was the law of the land for 10 years. The evidence is clear: the ban worked.

“A Justice Department study found that the ban was responsible for a 6.7 percent decrease in total gun murders, holding all other factors equal. The same study found that ‘assault weapons are disproportionately involved in murders with multiple victims, multiple wounds per victim and police officers as victims.’

“The use of assault weapons in crime declined by more than two-thirds in the years before the ban expired.

“In Virginia, the percentage of firearms seized by police with high-capacity magazines dropped significantly during the ban, to a low of 9 percent in 2004. That figure doubled after the ban expired, to a high of 20 percent in 2010.

“I deeply regret that Congress allowed the ban to expire in 2004. Since then, killings with assault weapons have steadily increased, with more than 500 people killed. In the last year of the ban, when it had fully taken effect, no one was killed with an assault weapon in a mass shooting. In contrast, eight years after the ban expired, in 2012, 40 people lost their lives in mass shootings with assault weapons.

“I will never forget that cold morning in December 2012 when I learned that 20 beautiful children and six brave educators had been murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Whenever I see pictures of these little victims, I am filled with profound sadness, but also a deep determination to do everything in my power to prevent another tragedy from occurring.

“I continue to believe we should reinstate the ban on assault weapons. I am encouraged that a number of states have taken action in recent years to keep assault weapons out of their communities. Today, seven states and the District of Columbia have laws banning assault weapons, including California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

“An assault weapons ban will not end all gun violence, but it will reduce gun murders, specifically mass shootings. If one of the lives saved is your child or your husband, your sister or your parent, that makes all the difference in the world.

“We shouldn’t stop with a ban on assault weapons. I support expanded background checks, stronger laws against gun traffickers and empowering parents to seek a court order to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.

“Reinstating the ban on assault weapons has strong support from police chiefs, mayors, clergy, medical professionals, educators and—most importantly—the American people. We must continue this worthwhile pursuit.”