Washington, D.C. (BTSNews) -- PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA is considering sweeping gun control laws that go beyond the 1994 ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, according to reports this morning.
The President's gun safety task force, led by Vice President Joe Biden, is said to be considering additional measures, such as universal background checks for gun buyers, a national gun database, strengthening mental-health checks and tougher penalties for people carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors.
The possible changes follow the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, where 20 first-graders and six heroic teachers were shot to death by Adam Lanza. The task force is currently scheduled to submit its recommendations to the President at the end of January.
BUT BEHIND THE SCENES, the previous 10-year ban entitled "Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994" -- which was co-sponsored by then Senator Joe Biden -- had mixed effectiveness.
As the number of guns increased after the ban, the number of homicides decreased -- According to the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, in 2011 there were 14,612 murder victims, of which 9,903 -- or 68% -- were killed by assailants using firearms. But the Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that while the number of guns -- including assault wepaons -- in the U.S.increased by 61% since 1994, the number of firearm homicides in the U.S. decreased by 58%.
So-called assault weapons used in less than 2% of all shootings -- Moreover, the CRS also makes clear that assault weapons and semi-automatics are very rarely used in crimes. According to the CRS, of 203,300 state and federal prisoners who were armed during the crime for which they were incarcerated, "fewer than 1 in 50, or less than 2 percent, used, carried, or possessed a semiautomatic assault weapon."
If the CRS's correlation between guns and gun deaths is accurate, banning assault weapons and/or semi-automatic firearms may actually increase the number of gun-related deaths in the U.S. If the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings provide any insight into the senselessness of many killings, the President's consideration of sweeping gun control laws may be ill-advised. It may be better policy to attend to the over 9% of Americans who are clinically depressed or unstable, and not on the vast majority of peaceful gun owners.
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