Lost in Gun Debate: Did ‘Ban’ Work?

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As the 10-year-old federal ban on assault weapons nears its expiration Monday, experts point out that the legislation was so full of loopholes that the the guns have been widely available all along, reports the New York Times. The Violence Policy Center estimates that more than one million of what it calls “post-ban” assault weapons have been manufactured in the United States since 1994. “All along, these firearms have been available,” said Gary Mehalik, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry trade association. “It has always been possible to go into gun stores and buy a pre-ban firearm or a firearm cosmetically altered to comply with the provisions of the ban.”

The ready availability of these powerful weapons underscores important questions often overlooked in the political debate over whether the ban should be renewed, say both gun control advocates and members of the gun industry. How effective has the ban been? The question is fiercely disputed and statistically hard to determine. Many point to a particular loophole: The ban prohibited by name 19 kinds of semiautomatic firearms, including Uzi’s, AK-47’s and AR-15’s, the civilian version of the M-16 rifle. To comply, a number of manufacturers simply changed the name of their guns. For example, Intratec, which made the banned TEC-9 pistol, changed a few features and came out with a gun called the AB-10, which stood for “After Ban.”

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/10/national/10guns.html

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