Journal of Quantitative Criminology

, Volume 17, Issue 1, pp 33–74 | Cite as

The Impact of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Ban on Gun Violence Outcomes: An Assessment of Multiple Outcome Measures and Some Lessons for Policy Evaluation

  • Christopher S. Koper
  • Jeffrey A. Roth
Article

Abstract

The Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 bans a group of military-style semiautomatic firearms (i.e., assault weapons) and ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds. Ban advocates argue that these weapons are particularly dangerous because they facilitate the rapid firing of high numbers of shots. Though the banned guns and magazines were used in only a modest fraction of gun crimes before the law, it was hypothesized that a decrease in their use might reduce gunshot victimizations, particularly those involving multiple wounds and/or victims. In response to a Congressional mandate for an impact assessment of the law, this study utilized national and local data sources and a variety of analytical techniques to examine the ban's short-term impact on gun violence. The ban may have contributed to a reduction in gun homicides, but a statistical power analysis of our model indicated that any likely impact from the ban will be very difficult to detect statistically for several more years. We found no evidence of reductions in multiple-victim gun homicides or multiple-gunshot wound victimizations. The findings should be treated cautiously due to the methodological difficulties of making a short-term assessment of the ban and because the ban's long-term effects could differ from the short-term impacts revealed by this study.

semiautomatic assault weapon large-capacity magazine gun homicides gunshot wounds 1994 Crime Act statistical power 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Block, C. R., and Block, R. (1993). Street Gang Crime in Chicago (Research in Brief), National Institute of Justice, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  2. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (1995). 1994 Firearms Enforcement Investigative Report, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, United States Department of the Treasury, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  3. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (1997). Crime Gun Trace Analysis Reports: The Illegal Youth Firearms Markets in 17 Communities, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, United States Department of the Treasury, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  4. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1993). Survey of State Prison Inmates, 1991, Bureau of Justice Statistics, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  5. Bureau of Justice Statistics (1994). Firearms and Crimes of Violence: Selected Findings from National Statistical Series, Bureau of Justice Statistics, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  6. Cameron, A. C., and Trivedi, P. K. (1986). Econometric models based on count data: Comparisons and applications of some estimators and tests. J. Appl. Econometr. 1: 29–53.Google Scholar
  7. Cherry, D., Annest, J. L., Mercy, J. A., Kresnow, M., and Pollock, D. A. (1998). Trends in nonfatal and fatal firearm-related injury rates in the United States, 1985–1995. Ann. Emerg. Med. 32: 51–59.Google Scholar
  8. Cohen, J. (1977). Statistical Power Analysis for the Behavioral Sciences, rev. ed., Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  9. Cook, P. J. (1985). The case of the missing victims: Gunshot woundings in the National Crime Survey. J. Quant. Crim. 1: 91–102.Google Scholar
  10. Cook, P. J., and Ludwig, J. (1996). Guns in America: Results of a Comprehensive National Survey on Firearms Ownership and Use (Summary Report), Police Foundation, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  11. Cox Newspapers (1989). Firepower: Assault Weapons in America, Cox Enterprises, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  12. Deutsch, S. J. (1979). Lies, damn lies, and statistics: A rejoinder to the comment by McCleary and Hay. Eval. Q. 3: 315–328.Google Scholar
  13. Deutsch, S. J., and Alt, F. B. (1977). The effect of Massachusetts' gun control law on gunrelated crimes in the city of Boston. Eval. Q. 1: 543–568.Google Scholar
  14. DiMaio, V. J. M. (1985). Gunshot Wounds: Practical Aspects of Firearms, Ballistics, and Forensic Techniques, Elsevier, New York.Google Scholar
  15. Fjestad, S. J. (1996). Blue Book of Gun Values, 17th ed., Blue Book, Minneapolis.Google Scholar
  16. Fox, J. A., and Levin, J. (1998). Multiple homicide: Patterns of serial and mass murder. In Tonry, M. (ed.), Crime and Justice, Vol. 23, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp. 407–455.Google Scholar
  17. Hargarten, S. W., Karlson, T. A., O'Brien, M., Hancock, J., and Quebbeman, E. (1996) Characteristics of firearms involved in fatalities. JAMA 275: 42–45.Google Scholar
  18. Hargarten, S. W., Kuhn, E. M., Nie, C. L., O'Brien, M., Withers, R. L., and Wintermute, G. J. (1998). Magazine capacity and the number of wounds for Milwaukee County homicides before and after the 1994 Crime Bill. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  19. Hutson, H. R., Anglin, D., and Pratts, M. J., Jr. (1994). Adolescents and children injured or killed in drive-by shootings in Los Angeles. N. Engl. J. Med. 330: 324–327.Google Scholar
  20. Hutson, H. R., Anglin, D., Kyriacou, D. N., Hart, J., and Spears, K. (1995). The epidemic of gang-related homicides in Los Angeles County from 1979 through 1994. JAMA 274: 1031–1036.Google Scholar
  21. Kish, L. (1965). Survey Sampling, John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  22. Kleck, G. (1984). Handgun-only control: A policy disaster in the making. In Kates, D. B., Jr., (ed.), Firearms and Violence: Issues of Public Policy, Ballinger, Cambridge, MA, pp. 167–222.Google Scholar
  23. Kleck, G. (1991). Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, Aldine de Gruyter, New York.Google Scholar
  24. Kleck, G. (1997). Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control, Aldine de Gruyter, New York.Google Scholar
  25. Kmenta, J. (1986). Elements of Econometrics, 2nd ed., Macmillan, New York.Google Scholar
  26. Knox, G. W., Houston, J. G., Laskey, J. A., McCurrie, T. F., Tromanhauser, E. D., and Laske, D. L. (1994). Gangs and Guns, National Gang Crime Research Center, Chicago.Google Scholar
  27. Kopel, D. B. (1995). Assault weapons. In Kopel, D. B. (ed.), Guns: Who Should Have Them? Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY, pp. 159–232.Google Scholar
  28. Koper, C. S. (1995). Gun Lethality and Homicide: Gun Types Used by Criminals and the Lethality of Gun Violence in Kansas City, Missouri, 1985–1993 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Maryland), University Microforms, Ann Arbor, MI.Google Scholar
  29. Koper, C. S. (1997). Gun Density Versus Gun Type: Did the Availability of More Guns, or More Lethal Guns Drive Up the Dallas Homicide Rate, 1980–1992? Final Report submitted to the National Institute of Justice, Crime Control Institute, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  30. Lennett, M. G. (1995). Taking a bite out of violent crime. Univ. Daytona Law Rev. 20: 573–617.Google Scholar
  31. Maltz, M. D. (1996). From Poisson to the present: Applying operations research to problems of crime and justice. J. Quant. Criminol. 12: 3–61.Google Scholar
  32. Marvell, T. B., and Moody, C. E. (1995). The impact of enhanced prison terms for felonies committed with guns. Criminology 33: 247–282.Google Scholar
  33. McCleary, R., and Hay, R. A. (1980). Applied Time Series Analysis for the Social Sciences, Sage, Beverly Hills, CA.Google Scholar
  34. McGonigal, M., Cole, J., Schwab, C. W., Kauder, D. R., Rotondo, M. F., and Angood, P. B. (1993). Urban firearm deaths: A five year perspective. J. Trauma 35: 532–537.Google Scholar
  35. Murtz, H. A., and the Editors of Gun Digest (1994). Guns Illustrated, 1994, DBI Books, Northbrook, IL.Google Scholar
  36. New York City Division of Criminal Justices Services (1994). Assault Weapons and Homicide in New York City (Public Policy Report), New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, Albany.Google Scholar
  37. Rand, M. R. (1990). Handgun Crime Victim (Special Report), Bureau of Justice Statistics, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  38. Rand, M. R. (1994). Guns and Crime (Crime Data Brief), Bureau of Justice Statistics, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  39. Randall, T. (1993). Clinicians' forensic interpretations of fatal gunshot wounds often miss the mark. JAMA 269: 2058–2061.Google Scholar
  40. Roth, J. A., and Koper, C. S. (1997). Impact Evaluation of the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994, Urban Institute, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  41. Sayrs, L. (1989). Pooled Time Series Analysis, Sage, Newbury Park, CA.Google Scholar
  42. Schuster, M., Barber, C. W., Ozonoff, V. V., Hume, B. C., and Jannelli, L. (1996). A Comparison of Statewide Morbidity and Mortality from Firearm Injuries by Intent, Massachusetts, 1994 (Draft Report), Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Boston.Google Scholar
  43. Sheley, J. F., and Wright, J. D. (1993). Gun Acquisition and Possession in Selected Juvenile Samples (NIJ Research in Brief); National Institute of Justice, United States Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  44. Sherman, L. W., Steele, L., Laufersweiler D., Hoffer, N., and Julian, S. A. (1989). Stray bullets and ''mushrooms'': Random shootings of bystanders in four cities, 1977–1988. J. Quant. Criminol., 5: 297–316.Google Scholar
  45. United States Department of the Treasury (1997). A Progress Report: Gun Dealer Licensing and Illegal Gun Traficking, Undersecretary for Enforcement, United States Department of the Treasury, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  46. United States Department of the Treasury (1998). Department of the Trasury Study on the Sporting Suitability of Modified Semiautomatic Assault Rifles, United States Department of the Treasury, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  47. Webster, D. W., Champion, H. R., Gainer, P. S., and Sykes, L. (1992). Epidemiologic changes in gunshot wounds in Washington, DC, 1983–1990. Arch. Surg. 127: 694–698.Google Scholar
  48. Zawitz, M. W. (1995). Guns Used in Crime, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  49. Zimring, F. E. (1972). The medium is the message: Firearm caliber as a determinant of death from assault. J. Legal Stud. 1: 97–123.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher S. Koper
    • 1
  • Jeffrey A. Roth
    • 1
  1. 1.Jerry Lee Center of CriminologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaUSA

Personalised recommendations