We’ve done it before. Between 1994 and 2004, the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act made the manufacture (but not individual possession) of assault weapons illegal. The result? According to data compiled from US Crimes and Suicide Data, a 38.9% decrease in the homicide rate and a 6.7% decrease in the suicide rate relative to the start of the ban in 1994.
But we should look at the broader picture. What happened in the decades following and preceding the ban? In the decade before the ban, 1984 to 1994, there was an 13.9% increase in the homicide rate and a 5.6% decrease in the suicide rate. In the decade following the ban, 2004 to 2014, the homicide rate decreased by 18.2% and the suicide rate increased by 16.2%. Well that’s interesting.
On the one hand, we seem to be riding a wave of decreasing violence with or without the ban. On the other, an Assault Weapons ban appears to have had a substantial impact on the homicide rate. Add to that, almost as a depressing icing on a morbid cake, our suicide rate has risen an alarming amount (mostly, an increase in Veterans' suicide rate).
Here's a table for summation:
- Mental Health resources need to be increased, especially among veterans.
- An Assault Weapons Ban (of the manufacture, but not possession of) could be helpful in continuing to decrease the national homicide rate.
- As violence continues to fall, we must constantly be learning from the effects of different legislation, so as to corner and eliminate the problem as best we can.