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Mass Shootings Involving Assault Weapons Kill More People Than Other Weapons

Washington—As the House Judiciary Committee prepares to hold a hearing on federal Assault Weapons Ban legislation on September 25, Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released the following statement on misinformation spread by the National Rifle Association:

“The NRA likes to say guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But guns kill more people than other weapons, and military-style assault weapons are the deadliest and the choice of individuals who want to shoot a large number of people,” Feinstein said.

“The simple fact is that if these high-powered, military-style weapons weren’t so easily available, we’d have fewer massacres, and shootings would be less deadly. No one law will solve this problem, but we have to start taking action now to dry up the supply of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”

NRA myth: The NRA says guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Fact: People kill more people with assault rifles equipped with high-capacity magazines than they kill with other weapons.

  • An analysis by the Rockefeller Institute of Government found that mass shootings that involved assault rifles resulted in an average of 5.2 deaths and 7.6 injuries, while mass shootings that didn’t involve assault rifles resulted in an average of 2.9 deaths and 3.2 injuries.

  • Many of the most deadly mass shootings, such as those in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sutherland Springs, Newtown, El Paso and elsewhere, involved one or more military-style assault weapons.

Feinstein gun safety bills

Senator Feinstein has introduced several pieces of legislation during the 116th Congress related to gun safety reform.

Assault Weapons Ban Act

  • Senator Feinstein in January 2019 introduced the Assault Weapons Ban, an updated bill to ban the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

  • The bill, which currently has 34 Senate cosponsors, bans 205 military-style assault weapons by name. It also bans any weapon that accepts a detachable ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics including a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock.

  • The bill also bans magazines and other ammunition feeding devices that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition, which allow shooters to quickly fire many rounds without needing to reload.

  • One update to the bill would allow, though not mandate, federal funds from the Justice Department’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program to be used to buy back assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The funds provide an incentive to retire weapons and accessories already in circulation.

Extreme Risk Protection Order Act

Senator Feinstein in February 2019 introduced a bill to help states develop court processes that allow family members to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.

  • The Extreme Risk Protection Order Act would allow states to use funds from the Justice Department’s COPS program to develop court processes that would allow family members to petition a court for a gun violence prevention order to temporarily block dangerous individuals from purchasing weapons from federally licensed dealers. If a prevention order were granted, the individual would be designated a prohibited purchaser in the NICS background check system.

  • States could also develop court processes that would allow family members to petition a court for an extreme risk protection order that would grant law enforcement the authority to temporarily take weapons from dangerous individuals who present a threat to themselves or others. The bill contains significant due process protections by ensuring confidentiality and the opportunity to be heard by a judge.

Age 21 Act

Senator Feinstein in May 2019 introduced the Age 21 Act, a bill to raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines from 18 to 21.

  • Under current federal law, an individual is required to be at least 21 years old in order to legally purchase a handgun but only 18 years of age to legally purchase an assault rifle like the AR-15 used in the Poway shooting.

  • The bill, which Senator Feinstein initially introduced in 2018 with Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), creates parity in federal firearms law by prohibiting the sale of assault weapons to individuals under 21.