Assault weapons are exceptionally deadly firearms commonplace in mass shootings. They are generally capable of firing far more bullets, far faster than manual-action hunting rifles. Prohibiting assault weapons can prevent mass shooting injuries and deaths.
Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are frequently used in the violence that plagues our nation. Between 2015 and 2022, mass shootings with four or more people killed where an assault weapon was used accounted for a third of all mass shooting deaths and more than 80 percent of all injuries.
Each round fired from an assault weapon has a muzzle energy much higher than a bullet fired from a handgun—up to four times greater. This means that each round of an assault weapon inflicts greater damage to the human body than a round from a typical handgun—and these guns can fire many of these high-powered rounds extremely fast. Assault weapons are generally manufactured to fire rounds at a greater speed than other guns and when combined with high-capacity magazines, they enable a shooter to fire more rounds over a short period.
These guns are often used in mass shootings and recovered at crime scenes, but research shows a prohibition on assault weapons can prevent mass shooting fatalities and active shooter events. A study comparing the period during the federal assault weapons prohibition (1994-2004) to the 13 years before and after the prohibition estimated that a prohibition would have prevented 314 of 448 mass shooting deaths that occurred during the studied periods when the prohibition was not in effect. Another study found state assault weapons prohibitions are associated with a lower likelihood of an active shooter event. Lawmakers should act to prohibit these excessively dangerous firearms.
Assault weapons are not deadlier than other firearms.
Assault weapons are generally high-powered semiautomatic firearms where each round has up to four times the muzzle velocity of a handgun round. This means that each round from an assault weapon inflicts greater damage to the human body than a round from a typical handgun. Assault weapons are generally designed to fire rounds at a greater rate than other firearms, and when combined with high-capacity magazines, they enable a shooter to fire more rounds over a short period.