Assault Weapons Backgrounder

February 2005

Assault Weapons

On September 13, 2004, the Assault Weapons Ban expired without action by Congress to extend it. The Ban was originally passed in 1994 to prohibit the manufacture and importation, for civilian use, of 19 specific military weapons and the future production of copycat weapons. A recent analysis by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence found that during the past ten years, while the Assault Weapons Ban was in place, the number of banned assault weapons used in crimes declined by more than 65%. The failed legislation (S. 1034), which would have extended the ban for another ten years, was sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Charles Schumer (D-NY).

USCCB Position

In Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration, the bishops reiterated their support for legislative efforts that seek to protect society from the violence associated with easy access to deadly weapons. “As bishops, we support measures that control the sale and use of firearms and make them safer (especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children and anyone other than the owner), and we reiterate our call for sensible regulation of handguns.”

During the last Congress (2003-2004), Cardinal McCarrick wrote to the White House, as well as to members of the House and Senate asking them to support the reauthorization of the Assault Weapons Ban.

What You Can Do

Conference staff has been meeting with other advocates for gun safety to discuss strategies on furthering our legislative agenda to re-institute the Assault Weapons Ban. As legislative opportunities arise we will keep you informed.