Pro-gun and gun violence prevention activists discuss prior semi-assault weapons ban

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WASHINGTON D.C., (WDTN) – Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and others testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, advocating for a nationwide comprehensive plan to legislate assault weapons so criminals are not able to buy them in a nearby state.

Others on the panel who testified disagreed, both sides citing a federal ban that prohibited semi-automatic weapons from 1994 to 2004.

“What they actually found was that should it be renewed, it would be unlikely to have any meaningful or measurable affect,” said Amy Swearer, a pro-gun activist for the Heritage House. “In part because these types of firearms are rarely used to commit crimes in the first place, it’s actually hand guns and non assault weapons that are used.”

Democratic Representative David Cicilline disagreed, saying, “During the ten year period of the 1994 assault weapons ban, mass shooting fatalities were 70 percent less likely than when the ban was in place.”

Others on the panel and congress members said that decade-long ban lacked the proper definitions and companies modified assault weapons so they were legal and still extremely lethal.

“Now you can get AK and AR pistols, and they fire rounds that leave devastating wounds and we saw that in Dayton,” said David Chipman, a retired ATF agent and current gun violence prevention activist.

Rep. Cicilline has sponsored a bill that would ban semi-automatic weapons but said it exempts 215 weapons used for sports or hunting.

“For this body, I think that the assault weapons ban bill that Rep. Cicilline has put forward is very thoughtful and should move forward,” said Whaley. “That bill would affect the Dayton shooting frankly.”

This was the first legislative hearing the committee has heard in years regarding a possible semi-automatic weapons ban, but as of now, Cicilline’s bill lacks some of the 218 votes it would need to pass.

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