Congress must reinstate assault weapons ban
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If we needed any more of a reminder as to why weapons of war have no place in our communities, this summer provided it.

In August alone, a shooter in El Paso used an AK-47 style assault weapon to murder 22 human beings and injure 24 more in less than six minutes. A shooter in Dayton used a modified firearm equipped with a high-capacity magazine to murder nine human beings and injured 27 more in about 30 seconds. And in Odessa and Midland, Texas, a man armed with an assault-style weapon killed seven people.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 8, for universal background checks. It is a widely supported proposal. However, Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPublic awareness campaigns will protect the public during COVID-19 Democrats: A moment in history, use it wisely 'Comrade' Trump gets 'endorsement' from Putin in new mock ad by Lincoln Project MORE (R-Ky.) and the Republican Senate refuses to even debate it.


But, we cannot stand pat. In fact, I believe we must advance another proposal: reinstating the federal assault weapons ban with a ban on high-capacity magazines.

It was only 25 years ago that the Congress adopted an assault weapons ban, for which I proudly voted. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 made it “unlawful for a person to manufacture, transfer, or possess” a semiautomatic assault weapon.

Research examining the ban’s efficacy found that the number of high-fatality mass shootings (six or more deaths) fell by 37 percent. The number of people dying in such shootings fell by 43 percent, compared with the 10-year period before the ban. But after the ban lapsed in 2004, the numbers shot up again—an astonishing 183 percent increase in high-fatality mass shootings and a 239 percent increase in deaths during such shootings.

Despite overwhelming public support for its renewal, a Republican Congress and a Republican president allowed the ban to expire in 2004. They cowed to pressure from the NRA. Too little changes.

The majority of Americans support the ban. According to a recent survey by Morning Consult and Politico, 70 percent of voters—including more than 50 percent of Republicans—supported an assault weapons ban. Even more supported a ban on high-capacity magazines, which research indicates could have an even greater impact.


This is personal for us in Connecticut. It is hard to believe that the Newtown shooting was seven years ago. That terrible day, the shooter killed six wonderful, caring adults and twenty beautiful, innocent children. He used an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle: another assault weapon.

Enough must be enough. We must reinstate the assault weapons ban. And, considering the terrible speed with which these weapons of war can destroy lives, we do not have a moment to spare.

DeLauro represent the 3rd District of Connecticut and chairs the Labor, Health, Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee.