Readers React: If the assault weapons ban ‘didn’t work,’ then why does the evidence suggest it saved lives?

Protesters call for more gun-control laws at the Broward County Federal courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Feb. 17.
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

To the editor: The federal assault weapons ban, which went into effect in 1994 and expired a decade later, restricted assault weapons like the AR-15 and large-capacity magazines holding more than 10 bullets.

In his opinion piece on the ban’s effect against mass shootings, Jon Stokes only examined how the ban impacted assault weapon use between the 10-year period prior to its enactment and the 10-year period it was in place. (As he notes, incidents involving such firearms, while few to begin with, still declined.)

He neglected to note that during that same time frame, mass shootings involving large-capacity magazines also declined in frequency and lethality. Moreover, he failed to mention that mass shootings involving assault weapons and large-capacity magazines soared during the decade following the ban’s lapse.

But Stokes’ greatest flaw is asserting that the assault weapons ban “didn’t work,” without providing any affirmative evidence that, in terms of mass shootings, the ban didn’t save lives.


Louis Klarevas, New York

The writer, an associate lecturer at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, is the author of the book “Rampage Nation: Securing America from Mass Shootings.”

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