Did mass shootings increase after the assault weapons ban expired?

Thursday, June 9, 2022
By Jacob Alabab-Moser

Mass shootings increased considerably in the U.S. following the expiration of the assault weapons ban. 

The ban, which prohibited civilians from purchasing semiautomatic rifles and magazines accommodating more than 10 rounds of ammunition, was enacted on Sept. 13, 1994, and remained in place until Sept. 13, 2004, when Congress let it expire. According to Mother Jones, which keeps a database of mass shootings resulting in three or more fatalities dating back to 1982, there were 15 mass shootings resulting in 96 deaths during the ban, compared to 35 mass shootings resulting in 299 deaths in the following decade. Since then, there have been 58 mass shootings resulting in 483 deaths.

In the decade prior to the ban, there were 16 mass shootings resulting in 125 deaths.

The Conversation noted that it is difficult to determine the exact impact of the ban expiring on the spike in mass shootings given additional factors, including "changes in domestic violence rates, political extremism, psychiatric illness, firearm availability and a surge in sales, and the recent rise in hate groups."

This fact brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.
Between 2020 and 2022, under close editorial supervision, Gigafact contracted a group of freelance writers and editors to test the concepts for fact briefs and provide inputs to our software development process. We call this effort Gigafact Foundry. Over the course of these two years, Gigafact Foundry writers published over 1500 fact briefs in response to claims they found online. Their important work forms the basis of Gigafact formats and editorial guidelines, and is available to the public on Gigafact.org. Readers should be aware that while there is still a lot of relevant information to be found, not all fact briefs produced by Gigafact Foundry reflect Gigafact's current methods and standards for fact briefs. If you come across any that you feel are out of date and need to be looked at with fresh eyes, don't hesitate to contact us at support@gigafact.org.