On Sept. 25, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing titled “Protecting America from Assault Weapons.” FCNL submitted this statement in advance of the hearing, calling on Congress to mark up and pass the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 (H.R. 1296).
FCNL’s Quaker faith compels us to seek a society where every person’s potential may be fulfilled. We believe that through the Spirit there is always a chance for reconciliation, rehabilitation and personal transformation. Too often, the presence of guns at critical times cuts short potential opportunities for redirection and renewal, resulting in tragic consequences. These principles guide our work on gun violence prevention. More specifically, these values lead FCNL to urge Congress to pass legislation that would ban assault weapons.
Military style weapons are specifically designed to be used in a battlefield. There is no reason they should exist in our communities or our streets. Created for combat, assault weapons are designed to kill large numbers of people in a short period of time. As such, they are used disproportionately in mass shootings. Some of the deadliest mass shootings in America were committed with assault weapons: Las Vegas, NV; Orlando, FL; Newtown, CT; and Sutherland Springs, TX are just a few examples. Today, anyone can buy an assault weapon from unlicensed private sellers, including people with criminal records.
A study of mass shootings between 1981 and 2017 found that assault rifles accounted for 86 percent of the 501 fatalities reported in 44 mass shooting incidents. A 2018 study found that mass shooting fatalities were 70 percent less likely to occur between 1994 to 2004 when the assault weapons ban was in effect. Further, an assault weapons ban would have prevented 314 of 448 mass shooting deaths that happened before or after the federal assault weapons ban of 1994.
Military style weapons are specifically designed to be used in a battlefield. There is no reason they should exist in our communities.
An assault weapons ban is a necessary step to reducing gun violence in our communities, particularly the most gruesome violence. Congress must uphold its moral obligations and take meaningful action to prevent more tragic violence at the hands of guns. We urge Congress to mark up and pass the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 (H.R. 1296). We are long past the time for Congressional action on this issue.
The level of gun violence that we see across our country is not normal, and it is not outside of our control. Only by enacting substantive legislation can we begin to tackle the complex problem of gun violence in our country and our society. There is no need for weapons of war to be in our communities and in our streets. We are ready to work with Congress to help make this a reality.Less access to assault weapons could result in less lethal or fewer crimes. Research on this issue remains scarce, and we need more information in order to learn more. However, a 2017 study estimated that, when taken together, assault weapons and high capacity magazines account for 22-36 percent of guns used in crimes. It’s only by reducing the amount and deadliness of weapons in our society that we can make progress towards making our communities safer.